She has been one of my favorites since the early 1990s when she gave a reading at the university where I teach. She's a fantastic reader and a great musician.
I went into the English Department this afternoon. Usually, the place is a hive of activity and conversation. People stand in the halls. Talk about poetry and teaching and chicken wings. It's a happy, busy place. Today, it was quiet. I passed a colleague in the hall, and he simply smiled and nodded. (This guy has made a habit of ignoring me.) There was a communal sense of loss that was palpable.
Harjo's poem is about loss. And flight. And eternity.
In short, it's about everything Saint Marty's been thinking about since Thanksgiving.
by: Joy Harjo
for Lurline McGregor
Ah, ah cries the crow arching toward the heavy sky over the marina.
Lands on the crown of the palm tree.
Ah, ah slaps the urgent cove of ocean swimming through the slips.
We carry canoes to the edge of the salt.
Ah, ah groans the crew with the weight, the winds cutting skin.
We claim our seats. Pelicans perch in the draft for fish.
Ah, ah beats our lungs and we are racing into the waves.
Though there are worlds below us and above us, we are straight ahead.
Ah, ah tattoos the engines of your plane against the sky—away from these waters.
Each paddle stroke follows the curve from reach to loss.
Ah, ah calls the sun from a fishing boat with a pale, yellow sail. We fly by
on our return, over the net of eternity thrown out for stars.
Ah, ah scrapes the hull of my soul. Ah, ah.
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