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Praise the Rain by Joy Harjo

Praise the Rain
Joy Harjo

Praise the rain, the seagull dive
The curl of plant, the raven talk—
Praise the hurt, the house slack
The stand of trees, the dignity—
Praise the dark, the moon cradle
The sky fall, the bear sleep—
Praise the mist, the warrior name
The earth eclipse, the fired leap—
Praise the backwards, upward sky
The baby cry, the spirit food—
Praise canoe, the fish rush
The hole for frog, the upside-down—
Praise the day, the cloud cup
The mind flat, forget it all—

Praise crazy. Praise sad.
Praise the path on which we’re led.
Praise the roads on earth and water.
Praise the eater and the eaten.
Praise beginnings; praise the end.
Praise the song and praise the singer.

Praise the rain; it brings more rain.
Praise the rain; it brings more rain.


Morning again. Trying to deal with the reality that I’m awake when I don’t want to be. Who’s gonna save you, croons a voice from the radio.

You know what’s absolutely terrifying—my capacity to laugh. Amidst all this grief. As if all of me haven’t dried up inside. As if I am not a hollow shell. How can I be a person, I think to myself, and betray my despair like that.

It takes over your body. Laughter, I mean. Like a widow’s cloak.

What can I praise amidst the wreckage: how the mind moves from thought to thought to thought. Here: the memory of my hand caressing her forehead, thinking, she is dead. Here: the memory of sitting in a sea of empty chairs at four in the morning, staring at a brass urn adorned with orchids, thinking, she is dead. Here: reading my friends’ salacious comments about someone’s butt, bursting into giggles, not thinking she is dead.

Last night, I sat in front of the TV with a steaming cup of noodles and watched a film. I ate three chocolate bars. I pruned my plants at two in the morning, humming a long-forgotten tune. I told you I miss you and may I have kisses please.

The ache persists. I think about the perfidy of praise. Is it a betrayal. Is it not love, that makes me want to reach for joy, despite everything.


This poem appeared in Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings by Joy Harjo, published by W.W. Norton & Company, Inc, 2015. Shared here with profound gratitude.


Read more works by Joy Harjo • Find books by this poet • Or view my library


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Comments (2)

  • In gratitude. Respite from the rabbit holes. Doom scrolling. Bait clicking. You caught my eye. Once familiar landscapes. You were always there. Waiting. Weaving your shroud.


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