Keeper of the Circle

(for my grandmother)

Julia kept the circle,
her love against the chaos
of the genie from his bottle,
released on all their plans
except the one in her heart.
No innocent fancy,
but raw desire
burning for a future
writ in the ancient tongue,
spoken to the gods
ruthless and unafraid.
Not a gentle lamb
but she wolf,
protective of her own,
her womb the only wealth,
the blood sacrifice given many times
for her children and their children.
Her dreams alive in our bones,
keeping the circle
in the green land beyond,
watching over us, vigilant,
fierce and unafraid.



Julia, Dorothy & Helen, 1940

Julia with daughters Dorothy and Helen, NYC 1940


10 Responses to “Keeper of the Circle”

  1. Thanks Don, the love residing in the bones of us all, the cycle or life lives on in beauty of the poem.

  2. Paul Blythe says:

    Yes! I bow in honor of all those who keep, with integrity, the Circle of Love, Life and Light.

  3. maria middlestead says:

    Catch-in-the-throat material. Twice recently in times of peril I have called upon the blood of my people and been given swift and extraordinary assistance. To the blood and bones of what we have received and what we pass on.

  4. Bill Dare says:

    Seven before for seven following… all part of our realm. Thanks for this personal reflection, Don.

  5. Jack says:

    It seems like the genie is in the genes, and you are carrying on in grand fashion the legacy of Julia…….the constellation of love is spoken so beautifully in your poetry, and in this poem, Don…………

  6. Rob Plamondon says:

    3 amazing women!!!

  7. Carol Carlson says:


  8. Pichay says:

    Amazing, but not a surprise….my cousin visited me Friday morning and we had a lengthy chat about elder service and responsibility to teach the generation(s) that follow us, with no awareness of this important poem. This was based on my having found a deserted library of books on ancient civilisations of my parents, gathering dust in my brother’s basement. I share elder knowledge with my ESL high school students. Cousin and I acknowledged that we have no doubt but what indigenous peoples throughout the world continue this practice, All the more concerned probably, when they observe how it is in materialistic societies such as ours. Thank you so much, Don.

  9. Thank you for this poem honoring the elders.

  10. Tom Wilson says:

    Lovely, lovely poem. In my maternal grandmother, I could sense as a child something that ran so deep and still in her, and now I would call it the blood of the ancestors, a quiet sureness about life, never caught in minutiae, and always fiercely protective of me. And I love what Jonas Salk said: “Our greatest responsibility is to be good ancestors.” Such a fine poem, Don. On to the next.

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