Would I have seen her?
The tide tugging her gently past
the Comfort Inn; houses, tall and gabled,
the bridge and its passersby.
This is not a hidden place.
The graze and drag of her,
clumsy, obstructive in the divided
caress of eelgrass.
No search. Eight days.
the moon returned, made chalk tracings around her shape.
Soraya Peerbaye, “Tide” from Tell: poems for a girlhood. Copyright © 2015 by Soraya Peerbaye. Reprinted by permission of publisher.
Source: Tell: poems for a girlhood (Pedlar Press)
- It's helpful to know that this poem is about Reena Virk. She was a teen of South Asian descent who was murdered by her peers in Saanich, British Columbia, in 1997. What part of her story is being told in this poem?
- How does the title inform the story? What does the word "Tide" make you think of in this context?
- What details from the environment are highlighted? What effect do those details have on the mood of the poem?
- Though a reader should never assume that a poem in the first person is written from the poet's own point of view — poets often write in character, or "persona" — Soraya Peerbaye has confirmed in an interview that she is the “I” in this poem. What is the effect of her insertion into the poem? How would your reading of the poem change if the first line read, “Would you have seen her?”
- If you were going to recite this poem, what tone would you use? Would it change at any point in this short poem? Use our tone list to help you make your choices.
- Think about a person whose story has moved you in some way. This could be someone you know or someone you've heard about in the news. Write a poem about that person with yourself as the speaker (using "I") that strikes a balance between objective observations (like factual details from a news report) and your own emotional understanding of their experience.
Watch this interview with Soraya Peerbaye as she talks about the book that “Tide” was taken from, Tell: poems for a girlhood.
Soraya Peerbaye’s book Tell was shortlisted for the 2016 Griffin Poetry Prize. Listen to the judge’s citation of her work and watch Peerbaye read from that book.