This week’s poem is by Joy Harjo, the first indigenous poet laureate in the U.S. I chose it because I have been grappling with how I want to show up in a world where conflict is always an option. I love the line, “An enemy must be worthy of engagement.” So often, the folx I find myself in conflict with aren’t worthy of my attention and time. They are holding too tightly to a limited expression of their humanity and mine.
This poem also reminded me of the conversations I’ve been having of late about shifting from a narrative where our liberation is tied to waking up our oppressors to our liberation being possible regardless of whether or not those in power wake up. It’s risky to think this way, of course. It gives us permission to act now. To take up space and create unapologetically regardless of the enemies—or friends—we make along the way.
What makes the creative work that you’re doing risky?
This Morning I Pray for My Enemies
And whom do I call my enemy?
An enemy must be worthy of engagement.
I turn in the direction of the sun and keep walking.
It’s the heart that asks the question, not my furious mind.
The heart is the smaller cousin of the sun.
It sees and knows everything.
It hears the gnashing even as it hears the blessing.
The door to the mind should only open from the heart.
An enemy who gets in, risks the danger of becoming a friend.