Following cultural lifeways

Elizabeth Woody

Elizabeth Woody

Oregon Poet Laureate and former Ecotruster

Elizabeth Woody reads a poem at Ecotrust’s 2016 Roots at the Redd signature event. Photo credit: Heldáy de la Cruz

Longtime friend, former Ecotruster, and current Oregon Poet Laureate Elizabeth Woody kicked off our 25th anniversary celebration with a reading of her poem.


Blue Moonlight in swooped clouds thin to dark eagles mating
in crosses of upward elliptical loops.

Beating pulses synchronize heartbeats among the tulee reed longhouses.

An old wound in the land healed over years of corruption and charging horse soldiers. The children ran over the embankment.

Alarms were frantic pounding of hooves and rifles. In the spirits silent rising and cracking bones. The valley courses with Nee Mee Poo souls.

At times one hears music in the leaves. It is light and tinkles of shell. Rapture.

Run off torrents with moonlight ice. Exhale. Breathe deep, organ pipes moan under the ribs from church.

The ancestors sing despite conversion.

This is not one voice but the beginning of all voices in unison. Yes, crescendo waves of spiral utterances of the Plateau canyons. Blue herons rise.

The river returns pervasive with silver and red Nusoox.

© 2014 Elizabeth Woody
Ichiskiin words:
Twanat means to follow, as in ancestral teachings, cultural lifeways
Nee Mee Poo are Nez Perce
Nusoox means salmon

First appeared in: Cutthroat Journal: Tribute to Linda Hogan and Joy Harjo. Volume 18, No.1. Mar 2015, Pamela Uschuk, Ed.

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