Joy Harjo

Monday, July 22, 2013

Here's to kissing and the Full Moon in Aquarius



Gate C22

At gate C22 in the Portland airport
a man in a broad-band leather hat kissed
a woman arriving from Orange County.
They kissed and kissed and kissed. Long after
the other passengers clicked the handles of their carry-ons
and wheeled briskly toward short-term parking,
the couple stood there, arms wrapped around each other
like he'd just staggered off the boat at Ellis Island,
like she'd been released at last from ICU, snapped
out of a coma, survived bone cancer, made it down
from Annapurna in only the clothes she was wearing.

Neither of them was young. His beard was gray.
She carried a few extra pounds you could imagine
her saying she had to lose. But they kissed lavish
kisses like the ocean in the early morning,
the way it gathers and swells, sucking
each rock under, swallowing it
again and again. We were all watching--
passengers waiting for the delayed flight
to San Jose, the stewardesses, the pilots,
the aproned woman icing Cinnabons, the man selling
sunglasses. We couldn't look away. We could
taste the kisses crushed in our mouths.

But the best part was his face. When he drew back
and looked at her, his smile soft with wonder, almost
as though he were a mother still open from giving birth,
as your mother must have looked at you, no matter
what happened after--if she beat you or left you or
you're lonely now--you once lay there, the vernix
not yet wiped off, and someone gazed at you
as if you were the first sunrise seen from the Earth.
The whole wing of the airport hushed,
all of us trying to slip into that woman's middle-aged body,
her plaid Bermuda shorts, sleeveless blouse, glasses,
little gold hoop earrings, tilting our heads up.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

He Stood



He stamped his feet and opened the door, stood on the threshold, turned around. The desert light shrank his eyes, sun slammed his face--he almost lost his breath--blond shiny grasses, ring of distant mountains pinking in the haze, the scorched but somehow fertile earth--he wiped his brow--he couldn't go in, he couldn't move, he couldn't say why--as if he too were a thing dried in sunlight, stopped in his tracks in the heat that fixed him in its gaze--rattlesnake Medusa--where he breathed the stinging dusty winds as though a rock inhaling rock--his proper evolution?--and fed on silence as it flowered and fell--the fierce clarity, the fierce restraint--front door behind him hanging open like a thrown shadow as he blazed in place... a man inside the view... the zooming arc... and edge to edge the blue absolute...

 About This Poem
"When I visit my friends south of Tucson, I say I'm going to Arizona to eat sky. I'm always amazed how much amplitude there is in the desert's minimal details. I wanted the person in this poem to be so transfixed by the view that he shifts from being a detached observer to being a part of that amplitude, a figure moving from the outside to the inside of his own frame."