Fear Poem by Joy Harjo

In “Fear Poem,” Joy Harjo literally speaks to her fear, addressing it as a separate organism from herself. She releases it, declaring that it no longer consumes her life in the way it once did.

This poem is relevant to those struggling with relationship abuse as, in the midst of an abusive relationship, fear can sometimes make leaving seem impossible. It gives an inspiring message, emphasizing courage in the face of fear and suggesting our ability to recover from debilitating and frightening times.

“I release you, my beautiful and terrible

fear. I release you. You were my beloved

and hated twin, but now, I don’t know you

as myself.”

Harjo refers to her fear as a twin, suggesting that she once saw it as an extension or a part of herself, something permanent which she could not overcome. Further, the use of the words “beautiful” and “beloved” suggests that she looked to her fear as something she could rely on and hide behind. This reliance makes it all the more powerful that she has learned to overcome it.

“You can’t live in my eye, my ears, my voice

my belly, or in my heart my heart

my heart my heart”

Harjo banishes fear from all parts of her body. The repetition of the phrase “my heart” shows the emotional empowerment she feels as a result.

The full poem can be found here: