On Being

Believe it or not, I am just about to go on “vacation.” Usually my vacations are writing retreats. This is decidedly not. The hubby has arranged for us to see the Grand Canyon — something I have wanted to do all my life (probably since reading Brighty of the Grand Canyon, by Marguerite Henry).

I wasn’t ready for this. “It’s too hot right now!” (Triple digits–my sister in Arizona tells me.) “Covid-19!” (We’re both fully vaccinated.) “Who will take care of the dog?” (We hired a dog-sitter.)

age one, with my dad

My cousin is visible behind me and dad, and I will ask her the name of the donkey.

Hubby came up with answers for all of it. I’m going to spend two days with my sister and her family — I get to see my two little great-nephews (very excited about that), and I’ll have lunch with a cousin who I haven’t seen in about 15 years — and before that, about 50 years. And then I’ll join Bruce and his friend, a former colleague, in Prescott. Bruce’s friend is an artist and loves the high desert. From what I hear, he is planning the perfect visit to GC. I am putting myself in his hands and not trying to control any of it.

So. I’m taking my poetry manuscript. And a small notebook to write in (not my regular journal). I’m maybe going to read my novel on the airplane. But maybe not. I bought another pair of shorts and new hiking shoes. I’m packing my swimsuit. I’m going to va-kay.

Meanwhile, on my walk this morning I listened to this podcast from On Being, and I think y’all should listen to it, too.

Joy Harjo

Consider this my little National Poetry Month party for our current United States Poet Laureate, Joy Harjo. There isn’t much I can add to the abundance of material already on the web — reviews, You Tube interviews, music and performance videos — but I can at least point you in their direction.

In addition to being a poet and writer of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, Joy Harjo is an internationally renowned performer. (Click on her name to find a wealth of information.) She is the executive editor of the 2021 anthology, When the Light of the World Was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through, and her most recent book of poems is American Sunrise. In 2016 I read (devoured) her memoir, Crazy Braveand then gave it to a dear friend. I met Harjo in 1993, when I was serving on the committee for the Watermark Reading Series at the University of Washington, and at one time I had all of her books. There is something about the way Harjo unleashes color and image, the incantatory voice of these books that demands to be shared.

Harjo ends her 1983 book, She Had Some Horses, with these lines (from “I Give You Back”):

I take myself back, fear.
You are not my shadow any longer.
I won’t hold you in my hands.
You can’t live in my eyes, my ears, my voice
my belly, or in my heart my heart
my heart    my heart

But come here, fear
I am alive and you are so afraid
of dying.


Finally, for a more recent look at her, and her work, click on this video — a kitchen table poem to take with you into your day and your month of poetry: