by Joy Harjo

for Lurline McGregor

Ah, ah cries the crow arching toward the heavy sky over the marina.
Lands on the crown of the palm tree.
Ah, ah slaps the urgent cove of ocean swimming through the slips.
We carry canoes to the edge of the salt.
Ah, ah groans the crew with the weight, the winds cutting skin.
We claim our seats. Pelicans perch in the draft for fish.
Ah, ah beats our lungs and we are racing into the waves.
Though there are worlds below us and above us, we are straight ahead.
Ah, ah tatttoos the engines of your plane against the sky—away from these waters.
Each paddle stroke follows the curve from reach to loss.
Ah, ah calls the sun from a fishing boat with a pale, yellow sail. We fly by
on our return, over the net of eternity thrown out for stars.
Ah, ah scrapes the hull of my soul. Ah, ah.

“Ah, Ah” appears in Joy Harjo’s collection How We Became Human: New and Selected Poems:1975-2001 (W. W. Norton and Company Inc., 2002), available at

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joy Harjo was born in 1951 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and is of Native American and Canadian ancestry. Strongly influenced by her Muskogee Creek heritage, feminist and social concerns, and her background in the arts, Harjo frequently incorporates Native American myths, symbols, and values into her writing. Her poetry tends to emphasize the Southwest landscape and need for remembrance and transcendence. (Read more at Visit the author at

PHOTO: “Crow and Palm Tree” by Max Clarke. Photographer’s note: This crow leaves the nest for a movie theater parking lot. Crows like sitting on palm tree branches. They enjoy riding the leaves that sway in the soft breeze. They also like hula music and drinks with tiny umbrellas. (Visit the photographer at