cover image Woman Who Fell from the Sky: Poems

Woman Who Fell from the Sky: Poems

Joy Harjo. W. W. Norton & Company, $21 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-393-03715-9

``The leap between the sacred and profane is as thin as fishing line.'' In her seventh book, Harjo (Secrets from the Center of the World), a member of the Creek tribe, makes this leap time after time. Working with a diction and a syntax that seem deliberately plain and declarative, she invokes ancient Native American myth, often from the midst of ordinary contemporary places such as Brooklyn, N.Y.; Washington, D.C.; and Chicago's O'Hare airport (``Chicago rose up as a mechanical giant with soft insides buzzing''). Her myths endow everyday experience with a transformative meaning that rescues Harjo's characters from their sometimes isolating individuality. Yet the myths also heed the details of individual experience as ``the single complicated human becomes a wave of humanness.'' The warmth of her universalizing gift is inclusive, collecting the lives of taxi drivers, an infant granddaughter, and ``an Apache man who is passing by my table in a restaurant.'' Readers may likewise feel swept up in the gentle wave of Harjo's poetry and prose poetry, where ``every day is a reenactment of the creation story.'' (Dec.)