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.
About this Poem
“This poem addresses the alive, sentient world and all its creations. It is about the arrival of the new people on this continent that came from their own failed worlds, and saw this one, as well, through their western philosophical lens, which failed in other places. Nevertheless, our older understanding of this world, and indigenous knowledge, have remained. They have been re-acknowledged and have the brilliant intelligence of what is called now nature.”
Linda Hogan is the author of several poetry collections, including Dark. Sweet.: New & Selected Poems (Coffee House Press, 2014). She lives in Colorado.
Date Published: 2014-06-24
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/map-0