From Sacred Fire, 1998, by Nancy Wood
I am all things, connected to all time and all places.
I am the undernourished bones of aged men.
I am the new blood of unborn babies.
I am a virgin searching for a lover.
I am a seed, waiting to become corn. I am ancient Fire,
cleansing the ravaged Earth. I am Ice, begging for
replenishment. I am all things, connected to
all animals and birds. See me running with buffalo?
See me soaring with eagles? What they are, I am.
Where they go, I have been before.
When they die, a part of me dies also.
When they are born, my life begins anew.
Out of stone-cold earth, I have become a flame.
From Hollering Sun, 1972, by Nancy Wood
My horse took me down the life-giving road
Drawing his breath as he went
His breath of strong spirit
His breath of power to plow and to pull.
But now he is old
And his breath is of feathers and corn.
I add to his breath
The breath of my own
And pray to his old age of riches.
The University of New Mexico Center for Southwest Research's Nancy Wood Photograph Collection has now scanned more than 400 of Nancy's images of rural Colorado, New Mexico, the Utes, and Taos pueblo. Browse or search this visual essay of the Southwest of the 1970s and 1980s.
Carolyn McSherry, a PhD student in American studies at UNM, gave a research talk in 2012 about Nancy's life and work after McSherry spent months processing Nancy's archive at UNM and interviewed Nancy. McSherry's talk explores the issues of recording vanishing ways of life and an Anglo writing poetry from the Native American perspective.
Nancy's poetry continues to be popular worldwide. Merkmal Ltd. signed a new agreement in 2014 to continue publishing the Japanese edition of Many Winters. Many thanks to our agent in Japan, Tuttle-Mori Agency.
From Shaman's Circle, 1996, by Nancy Wood
Before we met, you and I were halves unjoined except
in the wide rivers of our minds. We were each other's
Distant shore, the opposite wings of birds, the other half
of a shell that keeps the clam from falling out.
We did not know each other then, did not know our determination
to keep alive the cry of one riverbank to the other.
We were apart, yet connected in our ignorance of each other,
like two apples sharing a common tree. Remember?
I knew you existed long before you understood my desire
to join my loneliness to yours. Our paths
Collided long enough for our indecision to be swallowed up
by the greater needs of love. When you came to me,
The sun surged toward the earth and the moon escaped from darkness
to bless the union of two spirits so alike that your
Pain became my discomfort. In the hour when I stood naked,
You were there to play the drum of life for us.
Beloved partner, keeper of my heart's odd secrets, clothed
in summer blossoms so the icy hand of winter
Never touches us, I thank your patience. Our joining
is like a tree to earth, a cloud to sky, and even more:
We are the reason the world can laugh on its battlefields
and rise from the ashes of its selfishness to hear me say,
In this time, this place, this way, I loved you best of all.
From Sacred Fire, 1998, by Nancy Wood
Rainbows still live in the sky and green grass
is growing everywhere. Clouds have familiar shapes
and sunsets have not changed color in a long time. Thunder
still follows lightning and spring comes after winter's misery.
A tree is still a tree and a rock is still a rock. A warbler
sings its familiar song and coyotes howl
in disconcerting harmony. Grasshoppers still hop
to their own music,
bees still buzz with excitement, and squirrels
still jump like acrobats. Mountains still contain mystery
and oceans surge with eternity. Bears still sleep in winter
and eagles fly higher than other birds. Snakes have an affinity
for the ground, while fish
are content in water. Patterns persist,
life goes on, whatever rises will converge.
Do what you will, but strengthen the things that remain.