Oklahoma-born Joy Harjo is a member of the Mvskoke Nation and the United States’ 23rd poet laureate, the first Native American to be nominated for the post. Much of the imagery she uses in her poems is couched in nature as well as myth and ancestry. In Eagle Poem, she invokes circles and revolutions, wordless languages and the difference between knowledge and faith in that which cannot be known. The cycle of our lives, she suggests, follows a ‘true circle of motion’, like the arc of the eagle taken by the wind.
To pray you open your whole self
To sky, to earth, to sun, to moon
To one whole voice that is you.
And know there is more
That you can’t see, can’t hear;
Can’t know except in moments
Steadily growing, and in languages
That aren’t always sound but other
Circles of motion.
Like eagle that Sunday morning
Over Salt River. Circled in blue sky
In wind, swept our hearts clean
With sacred wings.
We see you, see ourselves and know
That we must take the utmost care
And kindness in all things.
Breathe in, knowing we are made of
All this, and breathe, knowing
We are truly blessed because we
Were born, and die soon within a
True circle of motion,
Like eagle rounding out the morning
We pray that it will be done