March 22 – “grace” when life turns mean – Joy Harjo

Friday,  March 22, 2019

In my local world, we are gathering at our university on 6 Mile Road gathering to send Sally Baker on her passing from this life and grieve an undergrad’s unanticipated death this week.  A soul friend engaging the South Dakota blizzard now in a second week of deep mud on the back roads of Pine Ridge.  Another soul friend listened to my hard stories and then told me that she was still awake at 3 a.m. as she tried to pay down the debt of intense overwork still unfinished.  Still another friend lies in traction in week two after falling and breaking his pelvis.  These are some of the front-page headlines from unanticipated crises and the wounds they’ve generated just lately.

I’ve been meditating this morning about what poem to suggest to readers of this “Work Day/Hard Time” poetry list and changed my mind three times.  Finally, I’ve settled on Joy Harjo, another soul friend of many years.  We posted her famous “She had some horses” on March 4.  Today’s poem is more geographical with hard winter edges in a prairie town which clothes winter’s winds with kinship and meanness both.  Naming the poem “Grace” can remind a reader that contemplating ordinary reality during a hard patch of time can call out courage and a mystical attentiveness to our human condition.

To each of my close kin who have told me hard stories these past two weeks, I wish we could all gather in a kitchen with some Detroit Bold “8 Mile” fresh roasted coffee, and tell each other how we are doing during this hard patch of living.  I am imagining that you, and all the list’s readers, could stand some good strong coffee and some good strong company.  We are, good days and mean days both “beautiful,”  “brave,” and “beloved.”

Have blest weekend.


john sj


Pine Ridge Blizzard 2019


Today’s Post  –  “Grace

I think of Wind and her wild ways the year we had nothing to lose and lost it anyway
in the cursed country of the fox. We still talk about that winter, how the cold froze
imaginary buffalo on the stuffed horizon of snowbanks.

The haunting voices of the starved and mutilated broke fences, crashed our thermostat
dreams, and we couldn’t stand it one more time.

So once again we lost a winter in stubborn memory, walked through cheap apartment
walls, skated through fields of ghosts into a town that never wanted us,
in the epic search for grace.

Like Coyote, like Rabbit, we could not contain our terror and clowned our way through a
season of false midnights.

We had to swallow that town with laughter, so it would go down easy as honey.

And one morning as the sun struggled to break ice, and our dreams had found us with
coffee and pancakes in a truck stop along Highway 80, we found grace.

I could say grace was a woman with time on her hands, or a white buffalo escaped from

memory. But in that dingy light it was a promise of balance.

We once again understood the talk of animals, and spring was lean and hungry with the
hope of children and corn.

I would like to say, with grace, we picked ourselves up and walked into the spring thaw.

We didn’t; the next season was worse.

You went home to Leech Lake to work with the tribe and I went south.

And, Wind, I am still crazy.

I know there is something larger than the memory of a dispossessed people. We have seen it.

This entry was posted in Poetry. Bookmark the permalink.