Hold on to what is good

We posted the Poem of the Month for nine years and have ended the series. Here is Nancy's most famous poem.

From Many Winters, 1974, by Nancy Wood


Hold on to what is good
even if it is
a handful of earth.
Hold on to what you believe
even if it is
a tree which stands by itself.
Hold on to what you must do
even if it is
a long way from here.
Hold on to life even when
it is easier letting go.
Hold on to my hand even when
I have gone away from you.

The Old Woman’s Longing – February 2023

From Sacred Fire, 1996, by Nancy Wood

From the deep blanket of winter, I am. 
From the fertile seeds of spring, I am.
From the unfolding leaves of summer, I am. 
From the ripening fruits of autumn, I am.

If winter's song is one of sleep, sing it.
If spring's song is one of anticipation, sing it. 
If summer's song is one of fullness, sing it.
If autumn's song is one of change, sing it.

What you are, I am.
What I am, you will be.
Where summer goes, I follow.
Where winter goes, we walk together. 
The longing of this old woman
is satisfied by the loving of that old man.

The Four Sisters of Everlasting Beauty – January 2023

From Shaman's Circle, 1996, by Nancy Wood

The Four Sisters of Everlasting Beauty danced on a mountaintop 
      in order to summon fire from deep within the earth. They 
      danced until flames poured from within veins in the rock, 
      cleansing them of selfishness and blame. The First Sister

Was the Dancing Woman of Mirth, whose direction was East. She wore 
      yellow, the color of awakening moments. She brought laughter,
      the first necessity in a world of sadness. The First Sister said:
      The spirit of laughter is the same as wind or water. It soothes

The troubled earth and makes hard edges disappear, even in the face of 
      sorrow. The Second Sister was the Woman of Long Experience, 
      whose direction was South. She wore blue, the color of memory. 
      She brought the imprint of fossils, also a collection of bones, the

Second necessity in a world filled with self-importance and envy. The 
      Second Sister said: The spirit of fossils and bones is the same as
      long memory, a connection to the ancestors. It reminds the sick of health

And to the healthy gives warning of their mortality. The Third Sister
      was the Woman of Unfulfilled Dreams, whose direction was West.
      She wore red, the color of purpose and daring. She brought tears,
      the third necessity in times when cleansing is required. The Third Sister

Said: The Spirit of weeping is nothing more than human rain, shed for loss 
      as well as love, and for children we never had. The unfulfilled
      dreams of warriors and women, of birds taken from the nest, and of 
      animals denied their place in life, justify my gift of tears.

The Fourth Sister was the Retreating Woman of Consciousness, whose 
      direction was North. She wore white,
      the color of beginning anew. She brought awareness, the fourth necessity 
      in a world of schemes and invention. The Fourth Sister said:
      Honor yourself before all else and you will embrace
      all life. All direction. All stars. All light.

And the other Three Sisters agreed.

The Fire of Women – December 2022

From Sacred Fire, 1998, by Nancy Wood

We are the eternal, we who have borne the pain and
grown old with only half our song being heard,
bodies aching from desire never satisfied
from mere mating with a man. We meet adversity
head-on, desiring recognition of our natural ways. We accept 
the confused words of men who are strangers to our souls.

Our pulse throbs with messages from grandmothers
fooled by dreams, like us. In our bones is bred
the patience of women who stayed with men
who did not love them, and the ache of women who died 
of heartbreak. Women learn from the anguish
that precedes calm, remembering how a child 
bursts headlong from the womb,
and with its very first breath
begs to hear our song.

Holding On – November 2022

From Wild Love, 1996, by Nancy Wood (unpublished)


The tree bent, but did not break.  The river swelled,
but did not flood.  Fires raged, and in the seas, the
great fish died.  All was desolation and ash.  Yet
the earth survived with the patience
necessary for survival and her wounds healed,
slowly, for she was meant to continue, against
all odds.  Women tend to notice such persistence.

My worn-out path with you is dangerous, and
I have fallen often, bruised and angry, certain
that I should go on my way alone.  As the river needs
a rock, so do I need you.  As the tree depends on
sunlight, so do I depend on you.  That is why
I am holding on, even when I think of letting go.