Poet Jane Hirshfield said "... the feeling I have about poem-writing (is) that it is always an exploration, of discovering something I didn't already know.  Who I am shifts from moment to moment, year to year.  What I can perceive does as well.  A new poem peers into mystery, into whatever lies just beyond the edge of knowable ground."

I bring a different poem to the writing classes each week, not only to inspire but to introduce new poets to the group members.

I Give You Back by Joy Harjo

I release you, my beautiful and terrible 
fear.  I release you.  You are my beloved 
and hated twin, but now, I don’t know you
as myself.  I release you with all the 
pain I would know at the death of
my children.

You are not my blood anymore.

I give you back to the soldiers
who burned down my home, beheaded my children,
raped and sodomized my brothers and sisters.
I give you back to those who stole the 
food from our plates when we were starving.

I release you, fear, so you can no longer
keep me naked and frozen in winter,
or smothered under blankets in the summer.

I release you
I release you
I release you
I release you

I am not afraid to be angry.
I am not afraid to rejoice.
I am not afraid to be black.
I am not afraid to be white.
I am not afraid to be hungry.
I am not afraid to be full
I am not afraid to be hated
I am not afraid to be loved

To be loved, to be loved, fear.

Oh, you have choked me but I gave you the leash.
You have gutted me but I gave you the knife.
You have devoured me but I laid myself across the fire.

I take myself back, fear
You are not my shadow any longer.
I won’t hold you in my hands.
You can’t live in my eyes, my ears, my voice 
my belly, or in my heart, my heart 
my heart, my heart

But come here, fear,
I am alive and you are so afraid
				 of dying.

~ from what have you lost?  poems selected by Naomi Shihab Nye 
(HarperCollins, Greenwillow Books, 1999)


website contents © copyright 2017 by Sharon Singer
with the exception of 'poems of the week' where © copyright remains with the poets or their publishers