Tuesday, January 13, 2009



by Joy Harjo

June, I don't have to use magic burned into roots of
antelope words
to tell you what I mean, when I say I met myself in the
Egyptian Room

just a few days before my thirty-sixth birthday. It wasn't
vertigo, though
vertigo is common in the bowels of the concrete monster.
Crossing Fifth

Avenue was a trick of the imagination. It wasn't that. By
the time I had
forgiven the stolen pyramidal gateway my heart had
become a phoenix of

swallowed myths. They appeared as angry angels stalking
the streets, who
prophesize resurrection of flowers as they tether
skeleton horses, stake out

the warmest corners. I have seen them write poetry in your
poetry. They'll
tell you there is no heaven or hell; it's all the same

I have seen heaven in a woman's eyes the color of burnt
I have seen hell, in those same eyes, and I have jumped.
It's all the same.

I entered that room naked except for the dream of carrying
a water jar to
the river. And within that dream a crocodile cruised the
grasses, watched

me dip it, then drove me down. I remembered none of it
as the spin of
-broken sky replaced my meager human memory. And woke
up, five

years old in a sweaty army blanket on a cot in Oklahoma,
to see the false
fronts of sepulchres painted with the masks of rulers, the

underlined with kohl, my child's eyelash a leap in time. I
once again
offered my rebel spirit up to the living. And awoke,
startled to cradle

my ribs of water years later in an Egyptian Room that is
merely fractile of
Egypt, to take on this torture of language to describe once
more what can't

be born on paper. It goes something like this: when the
mythic spiral of time
turned its beaded head and understood what was going
on, it snapped. All

these years I had been sleeping in the mind of the snake,
June. I have to tell
this to someone.

(for June Jordan)

Copyright © Joy Harjo

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