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.
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.
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.
From Shaman’s Circle, 1996, by Nancy Wood
O sun, the father of us all, maker of ripe flowers, creator
of fat corn, return this day to our part of the shrinking sky.
Your journey to the south is now complete and we pray to you
to remember the drear, dark days of winter caught between
Your strong fingers struggling to release the earth from sleep. In this
long gasp of icy silence, all creatures find renewal, a pale hope
That spring will not forget to come this year, nor will birds forget to lay eggs
heavy with the yolk of generation.
Now the earth lies panting in the rich blood of summer, and you are content,
O sun, father of full orchards and the restlessness of elk. We observe
Your deep shadows and hear the laughter of leaves green with continuity,
but we are not deceived by the smoothness of our ripe landscape.
Even the longest day contains the seeds of winter and on the wind we hear
the song that icicles sing to stay awake. The longest day is merely
A pause between the places where our lives are lived, and in its fullness
we dance for the right of bumblebees to gather distant honey.
From Spirit Walker, 1993, by Nancy Wood
The Story of a Flower
In the season of wild strawberries
I came from the earth as a flower
High on a hill above my village, with only
The Eagle, the Buffalo, the Bear and the Butterfly
To watch the petals of my spirit unfold.
The Eagle spoke first. He said:
Sister; you will never have wings like me,
Except in the pathways of your dreams,
Yet you will fly to the top of the sky
Because I give you the Gift of Courage.
The Buffalo spoke next. He said:
Sister; you will never survive a long time like me,
Except on the trail of your memories,
Yet you will see a thousand winters go by
Because I give you the Gift of Endurance.
The Bear spoke next. He said:
Sister; you will never know the secrets
Of the Four-Legged Animals, since you are only a flower,
Yet the knowledge of all creatures is yours
Because I give you the Gift of Wisdom.
The Butterfly spoke next. She said:
Sister, you believe you are very important,
Because the creatures have given their gifts to you,
Yet here on this hill you will always be at home
Because I give you the Gift of Humility.
So I have lived for many seasons,
Among the Eagle, the Buffalo, the Bear and the Butterfly,
Watching the birds go by, speaking to rain and sky.
My colors have been the colors of the rainbow.
My beauty has given joy to all who see me.
To bloom even when there is no rain
Requires the Courage of the Eagle.
To last through the heavy snows of winter
Requires the Endurance of the Buffalo.
To understand the importance of all seasons
Requires the Wisdom of the Bear.
But to rejoice when my blossoms die
Requires only the Butterfly’s Humility.