I was actually looking for a poem for Earth Day when I ran across this poem and as often happens, it spoke to me. It said, "Pick me! Pick me!" And so I did.
I had frankly not heard of this poet, but I was struck first of all by the fact that she was born on my father's birthday, May 9, and secondly by the fact that she is a Native American woman. Some of the most evocative and meaningful (to me) poetry that I've read in recent months has been written by Native American women.
Joy Harjo was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma on May 9, 1951, and is a member of the Mvskoke/Creek Nation. In 2015, she received the Wallace Stevens Award, given for proven mastery in the art of poetry. Here is her poem that spoke to me.
by Joy Harjo
Remember the sky that you were born under,
know each of the star’s stories.
Remember the moon, know who she is.
Remember the sun’s birth at dawn, that is the
strongest point of time. Remember sundown
and the giving away to night.
Remember your birth, how your mother struggled
to give you form and breath. You are evidence of
her life, and her mother’s, and hers.
Remember your father. He is your life, also.
Remember the earth whose skin you are:
red earth, black earth, yellow earth, white earth
brown earth, we are earth.
Remember the plants, trees, animal life who all have their
tribes, their families, their histories, too. Talk to them,
listen to them. They are alive poems.
Remember the wind. Remember her voice. She knows the
origin of this universe.
Remember you are all people and all people
Remember you are this universe and this
universe is you.
Remember all is in motion, is growing, is you.
Remember language comes from this.
Remember the dance language is, that life is.