Poetry by Linda Hogan

The Unseen

If you think I’m going to write about someone’s god
that’s a mistake. I am sitting by wild strawberries
not yet blooming. An emerald-green frog believes it can’t be seen
under the leaf. The insects it wants sing, also unseen,
and mourning doves in the distance
think I am not here with a silent song,
not even to interrupt morning’s eye wide open.

In the very near water, even with open eyes
I missed the leap. Fish, I didn’t see you either.
The reeds grow and I am missing that, as well,
and the animal that just broke a fallen twig.

On the large stone is a petroglyph
of a mountain goat. It is covered with lichen
and barely visible like the moth that appears to be stone,
in its refuge.

I see so little and know so little.
Perhaps that is a kind of wisdom,
but, if nothing else, at the very least
I am not alone in the world
of the unseen.

 

About

The sacred ones came around my house last night
to prepare me for work today,
giving me a clear mind.
They cleaned the doorway so nothing unholy would enter,
so when I walk out to pray with cornmeal and pollen,
to feed the creature life their grains,
I will walk their way,
this path,
and when I go to work carrying all my papers and books
they will guide that work.
And when I return, they will be right here.
Whether I work or cook
or wash the clothing,
all will be right because the sacred ones are here
and they are like the wind blowing through the forest,
a feather, a leaf, the little round pellet I collected
that says, Remember hearing the owl in darkness?
And then once again it is here, the owl,
the first light of dawn.

 

Trail of Tears: Our Removal

With lines unseen the land was broken.
When surveyors came, we knew
what the prophet had said was true,
this land with unseen lines would be taken.

So, you who live there now,
don’t forget to love it, thank it
the place that was once our forest,
our ponds, our mosses,
the swamplands with birds and more lowly creatures.

As for us, we walked into the military strength of hunger
and war for that land we still dream.
As the ferry crossed the distance,
or as the walkers left behind their loved ones,
think how we took with us our cats and kittens,
the puppies we loved. We were innocent of what we faced,
along the trail. We took clothing, dishes,
thinking there would be something to start a new life,
believing justice lived in the world,
and the horses, so many,
one by one stolen, taken by the many thieves.

So have compassion for that land at least.

Every step we took was one away from the songs,
old dances, memories, some of us dark and not speaking English.
some of us white, or married to the dark, or children of translators
the half-white, all of us watched by America, all of us
longing for trees for shade, homing, rooting,
even more for food along the hunger way.

You would think those of us born later
would fight for justice, for peace,
for the new land, its trees being taken.
You would think
the struggle would be over
between the two worlds in this place
that is now our knowledge,
our new belonging, our being,
and we’d never again care for the notion of maps
or American wars, or the god of their sky,
thinking of those things we were forced to leave behind,
living country, stolen home,
the world measured inch by inch, mile by mile,
hectares, all measurements, even the trail of our tears.

With all the new fierce light, heat, drought
the missing water, you’d think
in another red century, the old wisdom
might exist if we considered enough
that even before the new beliefs
we were once whole,
but now our bodies and minds remain
the measured geography.

 

Home in the Woods

Oh home in the woods,
I am here as one hungry to eat,
one with no bread
in the garden of trees
in a place where the stone wishes to blossom.
Bullets have gone to sleep
and with effort the water
flows the way it once did.
Here, in winter, there is enough
dry wood for heat
and I enter smiling, forgetting our history.
Can you bring me to the place
where pollen is now the light
and we remember the original song?
Can you keep me
here? Can you unharm me?