Linda Hogan

Linda Hogan (1947-) “is a mixed-blood Chickasaw whose voice as a poet, essayist, and novelist gently calls us home to an ancestral sense of time and place. Although she was born in Denver, her tribal homeland is Oklahoma, where most of her family remains. Still, she says she has sent down a long taproot in the mountain lands of Colorado and wants to stay there. ‘I’ve become familiar with the edible plants, with the seasons, the migrations of owls and geese, the deer herd, the position of stars and planets, when things grow, when the hills thaw and fall with rockslides, what goes on with the lives of the people.’ She was educated and now teaches at the University of Colorado. Her book Seeing Through the Sun (1985), one of several volumes of poetry she has written, won the American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation.” From Parabola magazine, Summer 1990.

Excerpt from Walking:

“…I never learned the sunflower’s golden language or the tongues of its citizens. I had a small understanding, nothing more than a shallow observation of the flower, insects, and birds. But they knew what to do, how to live. An old voice from somewhere, gene or cell, told the plant how to evade the pull of gravity and find its way upward, how to open. It was instinct, intuition, necessity. A certain knowing directed the seed bearing birds on paths to ancestral homelands they had never seen. They believed it. They followed.

“There are other summons and calls, some even more mysterious than those commandments to birds or those survival journeys of insects. In bamboo plants, for instance, with their thin green canopy of light and golden stalks that creak in the wind. Once a century, all of a certain kind of bamboo flower on the same day, whether they are in Malaysia or in a greenhouse in Minnesota makes no difference, nor does the age or size of the plant. They flower. Some current of an inner language passes between them, through space and separation, in ways we cannot explain in our language. They are all, somehow, one plant, each with a share of communal knowledge…

“…Tonight I walk. I am watching the sky. I think of the people who came before me and how they knew the placement of stars in the sky, watched the moving sun long and hard enough to witness how a certain angle of light touched a stone only once a year. Without written records, they knew the gods of every night, the small, fine details of the world around them and of immensity above them…Walking, I am listening to a deeper way. Suddenly all my ancestors are behind me. Be still, they say. Watch and listen. Your are the result of the love of thousands.”

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