Joy Harjo / One day I did not know what to do with my anger

Joy Harjo

June 1, 2020

This last week has been one of failures, facing my own poor communication skills (why do you think I was given this path of words?!), rifts and coming together in family, a mulberry tree, and tending to the wounded sacredness of our family, community, this earth.

One day I wondered that I would never stop crying for the suffering of our children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren. Would I drown in the tears? Would we all go down with the efforts of the haters who would separate us so they could incite us to destroy ourselves and each other, while they take over our homes and steal our children and dreams?

One day I did not know what to do with my anger. I had to count my breaths. Immerse myself in the plant world. I had to remember that every action, thought, and dream is a prayer.

Yesterday with family we marched with a community of protestors against the hate, the killing of our citizens by those who hate us for just being who we are—they are fearful they are losing a country that was never theirs to own in the first place.

None of us own the land. We are earth.

The protest was peaceful and a huge gathering of citizens gathered together from every segment of the population. The image that stays with me is as we began walking toward the gathering place for the protest, at the site of Black Wall Street, burned and destroyed by one of the largest hate massacres in the U.S., exactly 99 years ago, is that of a young African-American woman, probably 18 or 19 years old, who turned to walk in front of us as our family walked toward the meeting place.

She was beautiful in her awareness. She carried a sign handwritten “Black Lives Matter,” and walked alone toward the sea of protestors. I was struck by her aloneness, how much it meant to her to have her voice, and how George Floyd’s voice was cut off by hate. I prayed for her, for her family, for George Floyd that he was seeing that his life matters and mattered, for all of us as we came and will continue to come together for love and justice.

Copyright Joy Harjo 2020. Used with permission from the artist.

Joy Harjo is Poet Laureate of the United States, a musician and a member of the Mvskoke Nation. Her seven books of poetry and a memoir have garnered many awards. She is a member of KPI’s Advisory Board.