by Joy Harjo
I am fragile, a piece of pottery smoked from fire
made of dung,
the design drawn from nightmares. I am an arrow, painted
to seek the way to the name of the enemy,
but the arrow has now created
its own language
It is a language of lizards and storms, and we have
begun to hold conversations
long into the night.
I forget to eat.
I don't work. My children are hungry and the animals who live
in the back yard are starving.
I begin to draw maps of stars.
The spirits of old and new ancestors perch on my shoulders.
I make prayers of clear stone
of feathers from birds
who live closest to the gods.
The voice of the stone is born
of a meeting of yellow birds
who circle the ashes of smoldering volcano.
The feathers sweep the prayers up
I, too, try to fly but get caught in the crossfire of signals
and my spirit drops back down to earth.
I am lost; I am looking for you
who can help me walk this thin line between the breathing
and the dead.
You are the curled serpent in the pottery of nightmares.
You are the dreaming animal who paces back and forth in my head.
We must call a meeting.
Give me back my language and build a house
A house of madness.
A house for the dead who are not dead.
And the spiral of the sky above it.
And the sun
and the moon.
And the stars to guide us called promise.