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Prayer to Fix the Affections

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O Ancient One,
your web hangs down from the pines.
I am of the Owl clan.
I have been to water,
my dress is of red clay.
He moves at the edge of you,
binds us with your threads.
The center of his soul shall be my soul’s center.
Our paths shall be white forever.
Where we move the paths from every direction
shall recognize each other.
We are one never to be parted.

Gladys Cardiff, “Prayer to Fix the Affections” from To Frighten a Storm. Copyright © 1976 by Gladys Cardiff. Reprinted by permission of Copper Canyon Press.
Source: To Frighten a Storm (Copper Canyon Press, 1976)
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Prayer to Fix the Affections

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  • A member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee, Gladys Cardiff was born in Browning, Montana, and grew up in Seattle, Washington. Her mother was of Irish and Welsh descent, her father a member of the Owl clan of the North Carolina Cherokee. Cardiff received an MFA from the University of Washington, where she studied with the poet Theodore Roethke, and a PhD in literature from Western Michigan University.
    Cardiff’s collections of poetry are To Frighten a Storm (1976), winner of the Washington State Governor’s First Book Award, and A Bare Unpainted Table (1999). Her poems have been anthologized in From the Belly of the Shark (1973), Carriers of the Dream Wheel (1981), Songs from This Earth on the Turtle’s Back (1983), Harper’s Anthology of 20th Century Native American Poetry (1988), and Reinventing the Enemy’s Language (1998). She has received prizes from the Seattle Arts Commission and currently teaches...

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