When the World As We Knew It Ended

When the World as We Knew It Ended
It was coming.
We had been watching since the eve of the missionaries in their long
and solemn clothes, to see what would happen.
We saw it
from the kitchen window over the sink
as we made coffee, cooked rice and potatoes
enough for an army.
We saw it all, as we changed diapers and fed
the babies. We saw it,
through the branches of the knowledgeable tree,
through the snags of stars, through
the sun and storms, from our knees
as we bathed and washed the floors.
The conference of the birds warned us as they flew over
destroyers in the harbor, parked there since the first takeover.
It was by their songs and talk we knew when to rise,
when to look out the window
to the commotion going on--
the magnetic field thrown off by grief.
We heard it,
the racket in every corner of the world, as
the hunger for war rose up in those who would steal to be president
to be king or emperor, to own the trees, stones, and everything else
that moved about the earth, inside the earth,
and above it.
We knew it was coming, tasted the winds who gathered intelligence
from each leaf and flower, from every mountain, sea,
and desert, from every prayer and song all over this tiny universe
floating in the skies of infinite being.
And then it was over, this world we had grown to love
for its sweet grasses, for the many-colored horses
and fishes, for the shimmering possibilities
in dreaming.
But then there were the seeds to plant, and the babies
who needed milk and comforting, and someone
picked up a guitar or ukulele from the rubble
and began to sing about the light flutter
and kick beneath the skin of the earth
we felt there, beneath us--
a warm animal, a song being born between the legs of her,
a poem.
From How We Became Human, New and Selected Poems, W.W. Norton 2004 c Joy Harjo


Unknown said...

Your poetry is amazing! I just discovered you two weeks ago and after reading three poems on poem hunter... I was completely intrigued. Thank you for your blog and willingness to share your gift and writing with new poets like myself. Your way of living through and with art in all its forms represent a tangible spirituality.

In gratitude,

N.S. Tabrizi

Phoenix Sinclair said...

I read your poem "Eagle Poem" in the New Yorker years ago and it has been on my refrigerator ever since. I read it sometimes when I need to remember what is truly real and valuable and right. All these years later I google you and, here you are, writing, living, walking this earth in beauty, in beauty. Thank you for sharing your gifts with us.