By Joy Harjo
Once the world was perfect, and we were happy in that world.
Then we took it for granted.
Discontent began a small rumble in the earthly mind.
Then Doubt pushed through with its spiked head.
And once Doubt ruptured the web,
All manner of demon thoughts
We destroyed the world we had been given
For inspiration, for life—
Each stone of jealousy, each stone
Of fear, greed, envy, and hatred, put out the light.
No one was without a stone in his or her hand.
There we were,
Right back where we had started.
We were bumping into each other
In the dark.
And now we had no place to live, since we didn't know
How to live with each other.
Then one of the stumbling ones took pity on another
And shared a blanket.
A spark of kindness made a light.
The light made an opening in the darkness.
Everyone worked together to make a ladder.
A Wind Clan person climbed out first into the next world,
And then the other clans, the children of those clans, their children,
And their children, all the way through time—
To now, into this morning light to you.
Joy Harjo, "Once the World Was Perfect" from Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings. Copyright © 2015 by Joy Harjo. Reprinted by permission of W. W. Norton & Company, Inc..
Source: Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings (W. W. Norton & Company Ltd., 2015)
More By This Poet
We watched her grow up.
She was the urgent chirper,
And when spring rolled
Out its green
Into the most noticeable
Long-legged and just
The right amount of blush
Tipping her wings, crest
And tail, and
She knew it
In the bird parade.
We watched her strut.
She owned her...
Don’t Bother the Earth Spirit
Don’t bother the earth spirit who lives here. She is working on a story. It is the oldest story in the world and it is delicate, changing. If she sees you watching she will invite you in for coffee, give...
More Poems about Religion
Wake up, greet the sun, and pray.
Burn cedar, sweet grass, sage—
sacred herbs to honor the lives we’ve been given,
for we have been gifted these ways since the beginning of time.
Remember, when you step into the arena of your life,
For the Feral Splendor That Remains
sometimes I strain