for Lurline McGregor
Lands on the crown of the palm tree.
Ah, ah slaps the urgent cove of ocean swimming through the slips.
We carry canoes to the edge of the salt.
Ah, ah groans the crew with the weight, the winds cutting skin.
We claim our seats. Pelicans perch in the draft for fish.
Ah, ah beats our lungs and we are racing into the waves.
Though there are worlds below us and above us, we are straight ahead.
Ah, ah tatttoos the engines of your plane against the sky—away from these
Each paddle stroke follows the curve from reach to loss.
Ah, ah calls the sun from a fishing boat with a pale, yellow sail. We fly by
on our return, over the net of eternity thrown out for stars.
Ah, ah scrapes the hull of my soul. Ah, ah.
"Ah, Ah" by Joy Harjo, from How We Became Human: New and Selected Poems: 1975-2001 (W. W. Norton and Company, 2002).
Art credit: Detail of "Steering Paddle," carved from yellow cedar, 6 feet by 7.25 inches, by Dean Heron (Kaska/Tlingit).