Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon Portland Community College

This content was published: October 6, 2020. Phone numbers, email addresses, and other information may have changed.

Two Deep Breaths: For Keeps

Justin Rigamonti

A Weekly Poem to Lift Your Spirits and Help You Catch Your Breath

Hello! Every Wednesday throughout the fall term, I’ll be sharing a poem selected specifically to bring you a moment of clarity, a cleansing breath in these chaotic times. Robert Frost says a poem can create a sense of clarification— “not necessarily a great clarification, such as sects and cults are founded on,” he says, but “a momentary stay against confusion.”

To initiate the fall term with a startlingly clear declaration of hope, here’s a poem by current United States Poet Laureate Joy Harjo— the first Native American to hold that honor, a member of the Muscogee Nation. Read this joyful promise out loud if you can.

For Keeps

by Joy Harjo

Sun makes the day new.
Tiny green plants emerge from earth.
Birds are singing the sky into place.
There is nowhere else I want to be but here.
I lean into the rhythm of your heart to see where it will take us.
We gallop into a warm, southern wind.
I link my legs to yours and we ride together,
Toward the ancient encampment of our relatives.
Where have you been? they ask.
And what has taken you so long?
That night after eating, singing, and dancing
We lay together under the stars.
We know ourselves to be part of mystery.
It is unspeakable.
It is everlasting.
It is for keeps.

Read the poem on Poets.org