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Journal, Day Five

By Joy Harjo

First sounds this morning: my soul finding the body, a phone message from Alaska of the “Airplane Song” being sung at the opening of the Eskimo games last night, and the calling, calling of doves.


Inspired by the gift of Eleanor Wilner’s exquisite poetry this morning. (Excerpted from “High Noon at Los Alamos”):

As if compelled to repetition
and to unearth again
white fire at the heart of matter—fire
we sought and fire we spoke,
our thoughts, however elegant, were fire
from first to last— . . .


This body is something I’ve put on with breath. I slip it back on every morning. At night I leave it and go traveling, both vertically and horizontally. I will discard it when that opening beckons in the Milky Way.

And who or what or how is “I?” Meridel LeSueur was at work on three noun-less novels when she died literally with a pen in her hand. She had become flow, the essence of clouds, earth and sky, not the things themselves as they are named by human names. Yet she so honored and admired this rough and beautiful planet. She was earth in that chaos just before spring, as she leaned over the sky. She didn’t look back.

The English language is noun heavy. Dineh, or Navajo, Mvskoke, or Creek are predominately verbal. And in Hawaiian there is no line drawn between the ocean, earth, and humans.


This last entry will not be personal; rather it will be the mist who is in love with the Ko’olau’s. Last night at the end of the evening rush traffic in Honolulu, heading makai, the mist floated tenderly next to the shoulder of the mountains. It was around this image that the evening arranged itself.


No, I am not going to analyze poetry here. I’d rather be poetry.


From a beloved Hawaiian song: “Hi’ilawe”:

Kumaka ka ‘ikena ia Hi’ilawe Ka papa lohi mai a’o Maukele Pakele mai au I ka nui manu Hauwala’au ne puni Waipi’o

All eyes are on Hi’ilawe
And the sparkling lowlands of Maukele
I escape all the birds
Chattering everywhere in Waipi’o

A’ole no wau e loa’a mai
A he uhiwai au no ke kuahiwi
He hiwahiwa au na ka makua
A he lei ‘a’I na ke kupuna

I shall not be caught
For I am the mist of the mountains
I am the darling of the parents
And a garland for the grandparents

No Puna ke ‘ala I hali ‘ia mai
Noho I ka wailele a’o Hi’ilawe
I ka poli no au o Ha’iwahine
I ka poli aloha o Ha’inakolo

From Puna the fragrance is wafted
To dwell at Hi’ilawe waterfall
I am in the embrace of Ha’iwahine
In the loving arms of Ha’inakolo

(And so on—This is a classic Hawaiian tune and includes many more verses. These are the first three. From He Mele Aloha, A Hawaiian Songbook, Karen Wilcox, Vicky Hollinger, Kimo Hussey, and Puakea Nogelmeir ‘Oli ‘Oli Productions, Honolulu, HI 2003. One version of the song is credited to a Mrs. Kuakini, and another to Martha K. Maui.)

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Posted in Uncategorized on Friday, July 21st, 2006 by Joy Harjo.