And whom do I call my enemy?
An enemy must be worthy of engagement.
I turn in the direction of the sun and keep walking.
It’s the heart that asks the question, not my furious mind.
The heart is the smaller cousin of the sun.
It sees and knows everything.
It hears the gnashing even as it hears the blessing.
The door to the mind should only open from the heart.
An enemy who gets in, risks the danger of becoming a friend.
Harjo, Joy, Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings: Poems; Copyright © 2015 by W. W. Norton & Company. Reprinted with permission of Anderson Literary Management LLC, 244 Fifth Avenue, Floor 11, New York, NY 10001.
After a stone and sand exhibit in Portland
A man is leading the animals.
A man is leading the ones that float on water.
A man is leading the winged ones.
A man is leading the ones that swim.
Maybe he’s St. Francis,
the long-robed man who calls the animals to him now.
Maybe he’s Noah,
the one who gathered the animals.
and sailed away with them, they say.
Who was there to witness their leaving?
To sing a song for their journey?
Where are they going?
their faces turned northward,
taking their songs,
taking their maps,
taking their languages.
Are they leaving with joy in their hearts?
Or is sadness eating at their star hearts?
In the wake of their leaving a small wind
stirs the empty hands of the tree branches above us.
What I will remember—
footsteps left like dinosaur tracks
pressed between Sky Woman and Mother Earth.
When they leave,
I will weep.
I will weep.
Copyright © 2019 by Laura Tohe. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 11, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.
We did not say much to each other but
because this love was so good you sucked the
and I licked my fingers like a cat.
omniscient. I’m going to skip past
parts that go on for a very long time. Here’s the
I laugh, because the pleasure was earned
and I made room for what was dead past and what
exist. I was not always kind, but I
Copyright © 2019 by Sandra Lim. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 12, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.
The air is close by the sea and the glow from the pink moon
drapes low over a tamarind tree.
We hold hands, walk across a road rushing with traffic
to an abandoned building site on the bay, look out across the dark marina.
Sea cows sleep by the side of a splintered dock, a cluster of them
under the shallow water,
their wide backs covered in algae like mounds of bleached coral.
Every few minutes one floats up for air,
then drifts back down to the bottom,
without fully waking.
They will do this for hours, and for a while we try to match
our breath to theirs, and with each other’s.
In the morning, sitting in the garden beneath thatch palms,
we drink black coffee from white ceramic cups.
Lizards killed by feral cats are scattered on the footpath.
I sweep them into a pile with the ones from the night before.
Waves of heat rise from the asphalt,
and we sense a transparent gray fuzz lightly covering everything
as if there were no such thing as empty space,
that even a jar void of substance holds emptiness as if it were full.