This is the world
so vast and lonely
without end, with mountains
named for men
who brought hunger
from other lands,
of the thick, dark forest of trees
that held each other up,
knowing fire dreamed of swallowing them
and spoke an older tongue,
and the tongue of the nation of wolves
was the wind around them.
Even ice was not silent.
It cried its broken self
back to warmth.
But they called it
ice, wolf, forest of sticks,
as if words would make it something
they could hold in gloved hands,
open, plot a way
This is the map of the forsaken world.
This is the world without end
where forests have been cut away from their trees.
These are the lines wolf could not pass over.
This is what I know from science:
that a grain of dust dwells at the center
of every flake of snow,
that ice can have its way with land,
that wolves live inside a circle
of their own beginning.
This is what I know from blood:
the first language is not our own.
There are names each thing has for itself,
and beneath us the other order already moves.
It is burning.
It is dreaming.
It is waking up.
From DARK. SWEET.: New and Selected Poems (Coffee House Press, 2014) © 2014 by Linda Hogan. Used with the permission of Coffee House Press. Published in Poem-a-Day on March 6, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.
leads her dance group
at the high school hallway in Utqiagvik.
clear as a loon's call,
as the warm center of the lagoon where dreams come to surface.
Songs erupted from the Qargi,
flash in the dark,
piece of the moon bitten off,
landing at the tip of the drum stick.
Sealgut covering of prayers
whirring like wind slipping into tied-up hoods.
Whalers come home
to their Elders' voices,
their hands that shape sod and clear snowy pathways,
enunciating real people sounds that shiver
on the tunnel between the heart and throat.
Copyright © 2020 by Ishmael Angaluuk Hope. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 27, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.
And what, in fact, is dignity? In those
Who have it pure, it is the soul’s repose,
The base of character—no mere reserve
That springs from pride, or want of mental nerve.
The dignity that wealth, or station, breeds,
Or in the breast on base emotion feeds,
Is easy weighed, and easy to be sized—A bastard virtue, much to be despised.
True dignity is like a summer tree.
Beneath whose shade both beast, and bird, and bee,
When by the heated skies oppressed, may come,
And feel, in its magnificence, at home;
Or rather like a mountain which forgets
Itself in its own greatness, and so lets
Vast armies fuss and fight upon its sides,
While high in clouds its peaceful summit hides,
And from the voiceless crest of glistening snow,
Pours trickling fatness on the fields below;
Repellant force, that daunts obtrusive wrong,
And woos the timid steps of right along;
And hence a garb which magistrates prepare,
When called to judge, and really seem to wear.
In framing character on whate’er plan,
‘Tis always needed to complete the man,
The job quite done, and Dignity without,
Is like an apple pie, the fruit left out.
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on November 3, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.