Watching Over


This land I watch over
is a place with old stories
and plant medicine.
It is earth a mountain lion walks,
looking into the light of my life
in this little cabin made of stone laid on stone
love labored over love,
and happiness here a hundred years ago
when the fireplace was first made of this quartz,
a baby tooth pushed into the mortar.

It was the year my father was born
when people came from afar to see the new infant,
some walked long distances
from Paul’s Valley.

All were silent in his presence.
It’s the way we lived and live with the newly born.

The bison that lives here now went down the next valley
to hide in great trees.

For a time, that bison has watched over all of us.
Something often does.
Some call it god.
Some call it our ancestors, but the ones I see
in this small cabin are the lion,
the bear in spring
when ghostly wolves, not hungry,
pass by the herd of deer in silence this morning

and even the fox looks in my door
for no other reason
than to watch how I live, to be sure
it is the right way.

A Chickasaw novelist, essayist, and environmentalist, Linda Hogan is the author of the poetry collections Calling Myself Home (1978); Daughters, I Love You (1981); Eclipse (1983); Seeing Through the Sun (1985), which won the American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation; Savings (1988); The Book of Medicines, a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist (1993); Rounding the Human Corners (2008); Indios (2012); and Dark. Sweet. New and Selected Poems (2014).

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