Saturday, February 2, 2008

Next Week, Really

It gets exhausting after a while.
Thinking about it all is one thing -- my cousin asked, while breast feeding at a Morningside cafe, should I throw away my water bottles...
Not just thinking about it -- the meaning layers of -- of desire and need -- of benefit and grief...
and maybe, the heart breaks for the earth
and for the people traveling there
and for the birds strangling
for us
strangling without breath
and choked
and choking
on that that made life
seem easier once

and when the day comes
and we have to say
pollution and exhaust
are just too much

and the day comes
to walk home

on that day,
let us tell each other about
which will seem so farther then
when we have to walk every day, every where

let us tell each other then
about the way it was

and enjoy thinking about it

the way we sat together, making
the way we sat together
in the warmth of the oil burner,
reading to each other

When the World Ended as We Knew It
by Joy Harjo

We were dreaming on an occupied island at the farthest edge
of a trembling nation when it went down.

Two towers rose up from the east island of commerce and touched
the sky. Men walked on the moon. Oil was sucked dry
by two brothers. Then it went down. Swallowed
by a fire dragon, by oil and fear.
Eaten whole.

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 the flew over
destroyers in the harbor, parked there since the first takeover.
It was by their song 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

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
while 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
the 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.

"When the World Ended as We Knew It" from How We Became Human: New and Selected Poems:1975-2001 by Joy Harjo. Copyright © 2002 by Joy Harjo. Used by permission of W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.,

Source: How We Became Human: New and Selected Poems: 1975-2001 (W. W. Norton and Company, Inc., 2002).

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