Saturday, May 13, 2017


by Elizabeth Woody

Changeable surface, sand, wind, brushes of grass.
The composition of small particles and abalone shell is a mutable language,
fluid and clean tonal lilting in attenuated motion.

On the surface, removed from image, is an iridescent garment of compassion.
Boulders are lapped in flow, voices ascend to the lunar disk.
Simple paintbrush bloom, ecstatic, in orange and red.

Salmon pass through the river's mouth,
Songs hum in the vocal throat of grace.

Sage Brush around the loving fire waits in an aureole of pale courage.
Hold still, touch the compact smoldering soil.
The flesh of salmon is translucent as flame.
Heat and ardor, tender interior, smoke and calm weeds.
The fire is a furious matter of watching.

Familiar warm air rises as the Red Tailed Hawk, slow and loose,
a pinpont of vision on movement.
Land uplifts the shadow, higher.
Sun raises the cottonwood branches from the river's surface.

The salmon wait inside rippling light on the reversal of current.
The song says, Come or pass. Be weak or strong. Dance on light.

Moon is in the color of pale bellies slow turn to sky.
Scales illumine desire. Loosened moon particles collect
on the fringe of grass and water.

A brittle sheen of calcium and light combine with radiance.
Fine combs of supple and rigid spines rest among the stone.
The root, stone, flesh and water.

© 1994 Elizabeth Woody, to be published in One Reel project, 1998.

Elizabeth A. Woody is an enrolled member of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, Oregon, of Yakama Nation descent, and is “born for” the Tódích’íinii (Bitter Water clan) of the Navajo Nation. Her paternal grandfather’s clan is Mą‘ii deeshgiizhinii (Coyote Pass - Jemez clan). She received the American Book Award in 1990, and the William Stafford Memorial Award for Poetry and was a finalist for the Oregon Book Awards in 1995. Elizabeth has published three books of poetry. She also writes short fiction, essays, and is a visual artist. She is a founding member of the Northwest Native American Writers Association. She is currently the Oregon Poet Laureate.

Elizabeth Woody will be a speaker on at the pre-conference Spirit of the Salmon event on September 25th for the visit to Celilo Park. She will talk about the Confluence Project, tell some stories important to her people and share poems.

For more information on the Celilo Park part of the Confluence Project, please visit their website. Photo  of Woody by Oregon Humanities

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