Friday, January 23, 2009



In a world long before this one,
there was enough for everyone until somebody got out of line.
We heard it was Rabbit, fooling around with clay and the wind.
Everybody was tired of his tricks and no one would play with him;
he was lonely in this world.
So Rabbit thought to make a person.

And when he blew into the mouth of that crude figure
to see what would happen,
the clay man stood up.

Rabbit showed the clay man how to steal a chicken.
The clay man obeyed.
Then Rabbit showed him how to steal corn.
The clay man obeyed.
Then he showed him how to steal someone else’s wife.
The clay man obeyed.

Rabbit felt important and powerful.
The clay man felt important and powerful.
And once that clay man started he could not stop.
Once he took that chicken he wanted all the chickens.
And once he took that corn he wanted all the corn.
And once he took that wife, he wanted all the wives.

He was insatiable.
Then he had a taste of gold and he wanted all the gold.
Then it was land and anything else he saw.
His wanting only made him want more.

Soon it was countries, and then it was trade.
Any thought, action or dream
Rubs up against everyone else.
The wanting infected the earth.
We lost track of the purpose and reason for life.

We began to forget our songs,
we forgot our stories;
we could no longer see or hear our ancestors,
or talk with each other across the kitchen table.

Now Rabbit couldn’t find a drink of fresh water.
The forests were being mowed down all over the world.
The earth was being destroyed to make more
and Rabbit had no place to play.

Rabbit’s trick had backfired.
And now his clay man was too consumed to run with him.
Rabbit tried to call the clay man back,
but when the clay man wouldn’t listen
Rabbit realized he’d made a clay man
with no ears.

c Joy Harjo 2008

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