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Reading “The Creation Story” by Joy Harjo



Poetry Lunch S2E7

Reading “The Creation Story” by Joy Harjo from The Woman Who Fell from the Sky, published by W.W. Norton.


I am thinking of houses, and homes, and bodies; how we each inhabit ours differently yet unavoidably.

I can’t remember when I first read this poem but my strong association with the book is slipping it into a tote bag on the way to the ER. Even in emergencies—actually, especially then—I bring poetry.

That day I was the patient, driven by my neighbor who accompanied me through scary and painful proceedings. It is the only time in my life I’ve heard myself scream from outside myself. A very strange experience, followed by the thought: wow someone’s screaming it must be bad and then realizing oh. That’s me. I am that person! After the emergency was tended and pain meds were being pumped through my IV and I was crying inconsolably into my pillow, hooked up to all kinds of machines, my neighbor pulled out Joy’s book and started reading.

I remember the image of a half broken house and instant relief flowing through me. The words eased the medicine into me in a way I can’t explain. It was the most pure experience of relief I’ve ever felt. Better than waking from any bad dream.

So I recommend bringing a poetry book if and ever when you’re off to a hospital. And I highly, highly recommend getting to know Joy Harjo’s work.


Links to purchase:

Get the books here: The Woman Who Fell from the Sky and Catching the Light.