The Arrowhead

by Mary Oliver

The arrowhead,
which I found beside the river,
was glittering and pointed.
I picked it up, and said,
“Now, it’s mine.”
I thought of showing it to friends.
I thought of putting it—such an imposing trinket—
in a little box, on my desk.
Halfway home, past the cut fields,
the old ghost
stood under the hickories.
“I would rather drink the wind,” he said,
“I would rather eat mud and die
than steal as you steal,
than lie as you lie.”

 

Honoring the Wisconsin Native American Tribes

 

Victory

When I was twelve, I shoplifted a pair
Of basketball shoes. We could not afford
Them otherwise. But when I tied them on,
I found that I couldn’t hit a shot.

When the ball clanked off the rim, I felt
Only guilt, guilt, guilt. O, immoral shoes!
O, kicks made of paranoia and rue!
Distraught but unwilling to get caught

Or confess, I threw those cursed Nikes
Into the river and hoped that was good
Enough for God. I played that season
In supermarket tennis shoes that felt

The same as playing in bare feet.
O, torn skin! O, bloody heels and toes!
O, twisted ankles! O, blisters the size
Of dimes and quarters! Finally, after

I couldn’t take the pain anymore, I told
My father what I had done. He wasn’t angry.
He wept out of shame. Then he cradled
And rocked me and called me his Little

Basketball Jesus. He told me that every cry
Of pain was part of the hoops sonata.
Then he laughed and bandaged my wounds—
My Indian Boy Poverty Basketball Stigmata.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WRITING PROMPT

Poetry often transmits aspects of the poet's *paradigm. Carefully read, and re-read, the above poems in order
to identify at least one **assumption and one ***value each poet offers to her/his readers. In a two-paragraph
response, provide supportive evidence to back up your claims. Include in your response an interpretation
of each poet's purpose in writing the poem (Do these two poets share a common moral paradigm?)

 

* a set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality for the community that shares them.

** a thinig that is accepted as true or as certain to happen, without proof.

*** (values) a person's principles or standards of behavior; one's judgment of what is important in life