“Don’t Bother the Earth Spirit” by Joy Harjo

Don’t the Earth Spirit

Don’t bother the earth spirit who lives here. She is working on a story. It is the oldest story in the world and it is delicate, changing. If she sees you watching she will invite you in for coffee, give you warm bread, and you will be obligated to stay and listen. But this is no ordinary story. You will have to endure earthquakes, lightning, the deaths of all those you love, the most blinding beauty. It’s a story so compelling you may never want to leave; this is how she traps you. See that stone finger over there? That is the only one who ever escaped.


Joy Harjo, 1951–

“Don’t Bother the Earth Spirit” from Secrets from the Center of the World
University of Arizona Press, 1989
© 1989 by Joy Harjo

Photo by Joshua Sortino on Unsplash

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