Joy Harjo is one of my s/heroes. She is a warrior of the written word and I aspire to write words as moving and as powerful as hers…
I Give You Back
by Joy Harjo
I release you, my beautiful and terrible fear.
I release you.
You were my beloved and hated twin, but now, I don’t know you as myself.
I release you with all the pain I would know at the death of my children.
You are not my blood anymore.
I give you back to the soldiers who burned down my home, beheaded my children,
raped and sodomized my brothers and sisters.
I give you back to those who stole food from our plates when we were starving.
I release you, fear, because you hold those scenes in front of me and I was born with eyes
that can never close.
I release you, fear, so you can no longer keep me naked and frozen in the winter, or
smothered under blankets in the summer.
I release you I release you I release you I release you
I am not afraid to be angry.
I am not afraid to rejoice.
I am not afraid to be black.
I am not afraid to be white.
I am not afraid to be hungry.
I am not afraid to be full.
I am not afraid to be hated.
I am not afraid to be loved,
to be loved, to be loved, fear
Oh, you have choked me, but I gave you the leash.
You have gutted me but I gave you the knife.
You have devoured me, but I laid myself across the fire.
I take myself back, fear.
You are not my shadow any longer.
I won’t hold you in my hands.
You can’t live in my eyes, my ears, my voice, my belly, or in my heart
my heart my heart my heart.
But come here, fear.
I am alive, and you are so afraid of dying.