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REMEMBER

poem by Joy Harjo

Remember the sky that you were born under,

know each of the star’s stories.

Remember the moon, know who she is. I met her

in a bar once in Iowa City.

Remember the sun’s birth at dawn, that is the

strongest point of time. Remember sundown

and the giving away to night.

Remember your birth, how your mother struggled

to give you form and breath. You are evidence of

her life, and her mother’s, and hers.

Remember your father. He is your life also.

Remember the earth whose skin you are:

red earth, black earth, yellow earth, white earth

brown earth, we are earth.

Remember the plants, trees, animal life who all have their

tribes, their families, their histories, too. Talk to them,

listen to them. They are alive poems.

Remember the wind. Remember her voice. She knows the

origin of this universe. I heard her singing Kiowa war

dance songs at the corner of Fourth and Central once.

Remember that you are all people and that all people are you.

Remember that you are this universe and that this universe is you.

Remember that all is in motion, is growing, is you.

Remember that language comes from this.

Remember the dance that language is, that life is.

Remember.

“Remember” appears in Joy Harjo’s collection How We Became Human: New and Selected Poems: 1975-2002  (W.W. Norton, 2004), available at Amazon.com.

Painting: “Meditations on the Night Sky” by Akvarel.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joy Harjo (born May 9, 1951) is a Native American poet, musician, and author. Known primarily as a poet, Harjo has also taught at the college level, played alto saxophone with a band called Poetic Justice, edited literary journals, and written screenplays. A member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Cherokee descent, she is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa. In 1995, Harjo received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas. In 2002, Harjo received the PEN Open Book Award for A Map to the Next World: Poetry and Tales. Harjo joined the faculty of the American Indian Studies Program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in January 2013. (Read more at wikipedia.org.) Visit Joy Harjo at joyharjo.com.

Author Photo: Joy Harjo, Albuquerque, 1975, by LaVerne Harrell Clark, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED