Skip to Content

Eagle Feather Prayer

By Linda Hogan

I thank the eagle and Old Mother for this prayer
I send to earth and sky
and the sacred waters. I thank Old mother
and the golden eagle, the two who taught me to pray
without words. They instilled the part of me
unnamed by anatomy books
They gave to those parts
Their own perfect names
and so I stand here now
facing you and the rest of creation
also with secret names.
I send this prayer of gratitude to those who risk their lives
for clean, sweet water,
and once again there is the great silence
of what happened to the buffalo enclosed one night,
as if by some other magic, only dark,
and so hard it is to pray for the shooters
who laughed about hitting the girl with one good shot
but that is what they said to do.

We love our horses. We love the dogs. They have helped us.
We love the wildness of buffalo herds. That is the labor of humans,
to love, but I don’t know what happened to the shooters,
their purpose for being, although also with no words,
just with a part of my named self
I hold this fan from Old Mother and the eagle
and with all I have, send a prayer
so very silent.

Added: Thursday, January 19, 2017  /  Used with permission. Part of a special Poem of the Week collection on January 20, 2017 featuring six poems in conversation with the 2017 Presidential Inauguration of Donald Trump.
Linda Hogan

Linda Hogan, a Chickasaw novelist, essayist, and environmentalist, was born in Denver, Colorado. She earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs and an MA in English and creative writing from the University of Colorado-Boulder. Hogan is the author of the poetry collections Calling Myself Home (1978); Daughters, I Love You (1981); Eclipse (1983); Seeing Through the Sun (1985), which won the American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation; Savings (1988); The Book of Medicines, a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist (1993); Rounding the Human Corners (2008); and Dark. Sweet.: New & Selected Poems (2014). Intimately connected to her political and spiritual concerns, Hogan’s poetry deals with issues such as the environment and eco-feminism, the relocation of Native Americans, and historical narratives, including oral histories. Hogan has authored 3 essay collections and 4 novels. Active as an educator and speaker, Hogan taught at the University of Colorado and at the Indigenous Education Institute. She has been a speaker at the United Nations Forum and was a plenary speaker at the Environmental Literature Conference in Turkey in 2009. Hogan’s awards include a Lannan Literary Award, the Mountains and Plains Booksellers Spirit of the West Literary Achievement Award, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers Circle of the Americas. Learn more at Linda Hogan’s website.

Other poems by this author