remember. a poem by joy harjo

I find that the only way I can really read a poem, is out loud. Maybe I’ll whisper under my breath. But if I try to read it the way I read other things, my eyes skim and I don’t hear the music of the words. This poem deserves to be said out loud, like a prayer, like the blessing you might not have said at the Thanksgiving table before you tucked in. This poem deserves to be said out loud at night before you go to bed, instead of scrolling through instagram, just to bring you back to your body and the truth that we are nature, that nature is us, that we are woven of all these things. This poem deserves to be said out loud in the morning, to wake you up, instead of the coffee you use as a crutch. Imagine that? Imagine if speaking this poem was as much a habit as eating…

Joy Harjo is an internationally renowned performer and writer of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. She is serving her second term as the 23rd Poet Laureate of the United States.

Photo by NASA on Unsplash


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
are you.
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.

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