From Sacred Fire, 1998, by Nancy Wood
At first, the wild creatures were too busy
to explore their natural curiosity until
Turtle crawled up on land. He said:
What's missing is the ability
to find contentment in a slow-paced life.
As the oceans receded, fish sprouted whiskers.
Certain animals grew four legs and were able
to roam from shore to shore. Bear stood
upright and looked around. He said:
What's missing is devotion
to place, to give meaning to passing time.
Mountains grew from fiery heat, while
above them soared birds, the greatest
of which was Eagle, to whom penetrating
vision was given. He said: What's missing
is laughter so that arguments
can be resolved without rancor.
After darkness and light settled their
and the creatures paired up,
people appeared in all the corners of
￼the world. They said: What's missing
is perception. They began to notice
the beauty hidden
in an ordinary stone,
the short lives of snowflakes,
the perfection of bird wings, and
the way a butterfly speaks
through its fragility. When they realized
they had something in common with animals,
people began saying the same things.
They defended the Earth together,
though it was the animals who insisted
on keeping their own names.
From Spirit Walker, 1993, by Nancy Wood
Women, you must learn to be warriors
Now when times are dark and our men
Are afraid to tell us what is in their hearts.
There is so much trouble in our land
That it is up to you to decide
Which direction the wind must blow.
Women, you are our tree of life
Just as you were a long time ago
When a man said: carry my seed.
If you go forth from this darkness,
Telling our story of courage and survival,
Then our tree will grow strong with your words.
Women, do not worry about tomorrow.
Even when daylight is long in coming,
The sun remembers its place in the sky.
Take this blue shawl of knowledge and
Wrap it around your daughters, telling them
That women must not be afraid to be warriors.
Please stop by the Innisfree Poetry Bookstore and Cafe on University Hill in Boulder, CO! Eight poem broadsheets of Nancy's poetry and photographs are on display for a couple weeks in January-February 2018.
Special thanks to Brian Buckley and Kate Hunter, owners of Innisfree and our wonderful neighbors to the north.
Broadsheet design by Vicki Hopewell
Nancy Wood poem and photograph selection by India Wood
From Many Winters, 1974, by Nancy Wood
My people are a multitude of one.
Many voices are within them.
Many lives they have lived as various Beings.
They could have been a bear, a lion, an eagle or even
A rock, a river or a tree.
All of these Beings are within them.
They can use them any time they want.
On some days it is good to be a tree
Looking out in all directions at once.
On some days it is better to be a rock
Saying nothing and blind to everything.
On some days the only thing to do is
To fight fiercely like a lion.
Then, too, there are reasons for being an eagle.
When life becomes too hard here
My people can fly away and see
How small the earth really is.
Then they can laugh and come back home again.
From Shaman's Circle, 1996, by Nancy Wood
May you have life, my children of the sun. May you rise as smoke rises,
and spread yourselves on the wind. In our house, you are always welcome.
In our prayers, you will always hear your name spoken with reverence.
In you is the continuation of the world, both made and unmade. Soon you
must go, for your roots are growing, and your branches are reaching out. Soon
your wings must unfold, so you can stand at the edge of the cliff, learning
How to fly by yourself. You are free, my children of the sun, released from
your familiar place. Our thoughts go with you. Our songs are sung for you.
Our dances are intended to purify your heart. Please, now go.