Song for the Turtles of the Gulf
We had been together so very long,
you willing to swim with me
just last month, myself merely small
in the ocean of splendor and light,
the reflections and distortions of us,
and now when I see the man from British Petroleum
lift you up dead from the plastic
bin of death,
he with a smile, you burned
and covered with red-black oil, torched
and pained, all I can think is that I loved your life,
the very air you exhaled when you rose,
old great mother, the beautiful swimmer,
the mosaic growth of shell
so detailed, no part of you
or able to be created
by any human,
How can they learn
the secret importance
of your beaten heart,
the eyes of another intelligence
than ours, maybe greater,
with claws, flippers, plastron.
Forgive us for being thrown off true,
for our trespasses,
in the eddies of water
where we first walked.
From Dark. Sweet.: New and Selected Poems (Coffee House Press, 2014).
Used by permission.
Linda Hogan, a Chickasaw poet, novelist, essayist, playwright, and activist, is widely considered to be one of the most influential and provocative Native American figures in the contemporary American literary landscape, and is an internationally recognized public speaker. Her most recent books are the poetry book, Indios (Wings Press, 2012); the poetry collection, Rounding the Human Corners (Coffee House Press, 2008); and the novel, People of the Whale (Norton, 2008). A new collection of poems, Dark. Sweet., is due in 2014. Her other novels include Mean Spirit, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and winner of the Oklahoma Book Award, the Mountains and Plains Book Award; Solar Storms, a finalist for the International Impact Award; and Power. Her other poetry books have received the Colorado Book Award and an American Book Award.
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