4
Feb

Why the Great Spirit Made Hands - February 2015

 

Here is an unusual love poem by Nancy, chosen for February, the month of Valentine's Day.

 

Why the Great Spirit Made Hands, from Shaman's Circle, 1996, by Nancy Wood

 

The Great Spirit made hands before he made

eyes or feet, so people could learn to hold

one another. Hands were useful for touching

the hard ribs of trees or the soft tongues of flower petals.

Hands discovered the dry uncertainty of snakes, the

slipperiness of fish, the mystery of feathers. Hands found

Other hands and clasped together to embrace the oncoming world,

unafraid. Two pairs of hands, burned by fire and cooled

by water, felt their way along unfamiliar paths and then

reached out and found they needed one another

to make a home in the wilderness of their minds.

1
Jan

Reaching Back from Here - January 2015

 

This seems a good poem for the end of one year and the start of the next.

 

Reaching Back from Here, from Many Winters, 1974, by Nancy Wood

 

Reaching back from here

All that I remember of my life

Are the great round rocks and not

The unimportant stones.

I know that I experienced pain and yet

The scars have healed so that

I am like the tree covering itself

With new growth every year.

I know that I walked in sadness and yet

All that I remember now

Is the soothing autumn light.

I know that there was much to make my life unhappy

If I had stopped to notice how

The world sings a broken song.

But I preferred to dwell within

A universe of fields and streams

Which echoed the wholeness of my song.

1
Dec

Ten Million Stars - December 2014

 

Look upward some evening in December, the month of the longest starry nights.

 

Ten Million Stars, from Spirit Walker, Doubleday, 1993, by Nancy Wood

 

Inside each raindrop swims the sun.

Inside each flower breathes the moon.

Inside me dwell ten million stars,

One for each of my ancestors:

The elk, the raven, the mouse, the man,

The flower; the coyote, the lion, the fish.

Ten million different stars am I,

But only one spirit, connecting all.

5
Nov

When Trouble Comes to Me - November 2014

 

 

Nancy wrote this poem around 1971, after her second marriage had crumbled and she was a single mother with four children and a writer's income.

 

When Trouble Comes to Me, from Hollering Sun, 1972, by Nancy Wood

 

When trouble comes to me

I have to go and dance.

I dance until the dust receives my trouble.

The dust takes my trouble to the mountain.

The mountain grows with the dust of trouble.

The place for my trouble to be.

5
Nov

Old Woman - October 2014

 

Dave, Nancy's boyfriend from her later years, says she visits him as a presence or spirit. He keeps this poem near as words of those times past and present.

 

Old Woman, from Many Winters, 1974, by Nancy Wood

 

Old Woman,

It is you.

It was you even when

I did not see you except

In the eyes of my spirit.

Old Woman,

With you I saw

The dead log giving life

And the mid-winter stream

Rippling up for spring and

The mountains a long way off

Telling us of beginnings.

Old Woman,

With you I knew

The peace of high places

And the meaning of a flower

Curled up against the wind

Or leaning toward the sun.

Old Woman,

In small things always

There was you as if

All nature contained your thoughts and so

I learned from rocks and rainbows

Tall trees and butterflies.

Old Woman,

There was you in the eagle

Flying free and lonely

And in the eyes of a deer

I saw once in an untamed place.

Old Woman,

There is you in all good things

That awaken me and say

My life was richer, fuller

Because you lived with me.