Carolyn Forché is the author of four books of poetry: Gathering The TribesThe Country Between UsThe Angel of History and Blue Hour. She is also the editor of Against Forgetting: Twentieth Century Poetry of Witness (W.W. Norton & Co., 1993). Her poetry and essays have been translated into twenty-four languages, and she has given readings in many countries, most recently in Iceland, Finland, Vietnam, Libya, Jamaica and Greece. She has also translated the works of Robert Desnos, Claribel Alegria and Mahmoud Darwish, and has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, and Lannan Foundation, as well as other literary and teaching awards, including the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award, the Lamont Prize and the Los Angeles Times Book Award. In 1998 she received the Edita and Ira Morris Hiroshima Foundation Award for Peace and Culture in Stockholm for her work on behalf of human rights and the preservation of memory and culture. Forthcoming books include a memoir, a book of essays and a fifth collection of poems, In the Lateness of the World. She is Professor of English at English at Georgetown University, where she also directs Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice.


The Museum of Stones

These are your stones, assembled in matchbox and tin,
collected from roadside, culvert and viaduct,
battlefield, threshing floor, basilica, abattoir –
stones, loosened by tanks in the streets
from a city whose earliest map was drawn in ink on linen,
schoolyard stones in the hand of a corpse,
pebble from Baudelaire’s oui,
stone of the mind within us
carried from one silence to another
stone of cromlech and cairn, schist and shale, horneblende,
agate, marble, millstones, ruins of choirs and shipyards,
chalk, marl, mudstone from temples and tombs,
stone from the silvery grass near the scaffold,
stone from the tunnel lined with bones,
lava of a city’s entombment, stones
chipped from lighthouse, cell wall, scriptorium,
paving stones from the hands of those who rose against the army,
stones where the bells had fallen, where the bridges were blown,
those that had flown through windows, weighted petitions,
feldspar, rose quartz, blueschist, gneiss and chert,
fragments of an abbey at dusk, sandstone toe
of a Buddha mortared at Bamiyan,
stone from the hill of three crosses and a crypt,
from a chimney where storks cried like human children,
stones newly fallen from stars, a stillness of stones, a heart,
altar and boundary stone, marker and vessel, first cast, load and hail,
bridge stones and others to pave and shut up with,
stone apple, stone basil, beech, berry, stone brake,
stone bramble, stone fern, lichen, liverwort, pippin and root,
concretion of the body, as blind as cold as deaf,
all earth a quarry, all life a labor, stone-faced, stone-drunk
with hope that this assemblage of rubble, taken together, would become
a shrine or holy place, an ossuary, immoveable and sacred
like the stone that marked the path of the sun as it entered the human dawn.