Study Guide

Anniversary

by Joy Harjo

Anniversary eText - eText

Text of the Poem

When the world was created wasn’t it like this? 
A little flame illuminating a rough sea, a question 
of attraction, something fermented, something 
sweet? And then a bird or two were added, the crow of course to 
joke about humanity, and then another kind so beautiful  (5)
we had to hear them first, before our eyes could be imagined. 
And it was, we were then—and there was no separation. 
The cries of a planet formed our becoming. 
We peered through the smoke as our shoulders, lips, 
emerged from new terrain. (10) 
The question mark of creation attracts more questions 
until the mind is a spiral of gods strung out way over 
our heads, traveling toward the invention of sky. 
Move over and let us sleep until the dust settles, 
until we can figure this thing out. (15) 
What was created next is open to speculation or awe. 
The shy fish who had known lonely water 
walked out of the ocean onto dry land, 
just like that, to another life. Frog imagined meals of 
flying things and creatures in flight imagined hills (20) 
of daubed dirt and grass in which to settle and make others 
to follow in their knowledge which they were building 
as sure as houses on the tangled web. 
And in that manner we became—elegance of fire, the waving grass. 
And it’s been years. (25)