18 pages 36 minutes read

Joy Harjo

This Morning I Pray for My Enemies

Fiction | Poem | Adult | Published in 2015

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"Enemies" by Wendell Berry (1994)

Though Berry’s style distinctly varies from Harjo’s, in “Enemies,” Berry comes to a similar conclusion as the speaker in “This Morning I Pray For My Enemies.” Directed at the reader in a second person perspective, Berry’s “Enemies” moves through a series of queries about one’s enemies, landing in the idea that one’s enemies are “monsters like yourself” (Line 14). The closeness of one’s enemies is important in the visions of both poets.

"Enemies" by Lucille Clifton (2015)

In Clifton’s take on the relationship between enemies, she narrates an imagined biblical interaction between David and Saul. As in other poems dealing with enemies, Clifton toys with the ways that closeness between two opposing forces has to do with their antagonism. In the poem, Clifton uses language of violence to describe what sounds like intimacy. Though Clifton’s poem carries more explicit visualization than Harjo’s, it is partly an illustration of the philosophical tensions Harjo raises in “This Morning I Pray For My Enemies.”

"Obligations 2" by Layli Long Soldier (2018)

A contemporary indigenous poet, like Harjo, Long Soldier frequently utilizes alternate forms and structures. In “Obligations 2,” Long Soldier distinctly alters the way a poem can be read on the page: The poem can be both horizontally and vertically read for multiple meanings and interpretations.