Tag Archive | forgiveness

I Give You Back

I GIVE YOU BACK

By Joy Harjo (Native American poet)

I release you, my beautiful and terrible
fear.  I release you.  You were 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 daughters.

You are not my blood anymore.

I give you back to the white 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, because you hold
these scenes in front of me and I was born
with eyes that can never close.

I release you, fear, so you can no longer
keep me naked and frozen in the winter,
or smothered under the blankets in 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 lay myself across the fire.
You held my mother down and raped her,
                                         but I gave you the heated thing.

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.


“I Give You Back” by Joy Harjo, from the book Unsettling America: An Anthology of Contemporary Multicultural Poetry