Porcupine Blessing

On every day of my long life except for that one day,
I didn’t see a porcupine

On every other living day, I didn’t see it when I was running
at five a.m. by the D&R Canal in central New Jersey

I didn’t see it at eye level up in a tree and it didn’t hiss at me
before it vanished with its thick tail

On every day but one, I didn’t go home and tell my man
I saw a strange animal in a tree and it hissed and growled

On every day of my life but that one, I didn’t see that animal
and not know the name of what animal I had seen

On every day but one, a day many months later, I didn’t see
an Indian rattle with a fur tail and ask What is this made of?

On every day but the day of the Lenape rattle, I didn’t say
Oh, so it must have been a porcupine I saw in the tree

And on every day of my life since those two particular days,
the day of seeing and the day of knowing what it was I had seen,

I have felt blessed,

and when I moved from New Jersey to Oregon and saw a basket
made by a Northwest Indian and trimmed with porcupine quills,

I never again felt lost or out of place because from that day on
I have known

this whole continent is now my home

 

 

Penelope Scambly Schott

About Penelope Scambly Schott

Penelope Scambly Schott's most recent book is HOW I BECAME AN HISTORIAN. This year her Dufur poetry workshop will be in June and the topic will be "Riff or/and Lyric."
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