I love Joy Harjo’s work so much. Yesterday’s piece prompted me to read some more of her poems, and they are just exquisite. I decided to post this one today, but I heartily recommend you go look up more of her work on your own. Her work is clear-eyed and forthright and beautiful. Enjoy.
When the World As We Knew It Ended
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.
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 conference of the birds warned us, as they 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
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,