Prayer to the Pacific by Leslie Marmon Silko

I traveled to the ocean


from my southwest land of sandrock
to the moving blue water

Big as the myth of origin.

pale water in the yellow-white light of

sun floating west

to China

where ocean herself was born.

Clouds that blow across the sand are wet.

Squat in the wet sand and speak to the Ocean:

I return to you turquoise the red coral you sent us,

sister spirit of Earth.

Four round stones in my pocket I carry back the ocean

to suck and to taste.

Thirty thousand years ago

Indians came riding across the ocean
carried by giant sea turtles.

Waves were high that day

great sea turtles waded slowly out

from the gray sundown sea.

Grandfather Turtle rolled in the sand four times

and disappeared

swimming into the sun.

And so from that time


as the old people say,

rain clouds drift from the west

gift from the ocean.

Green leaves in the wind
Wet earth on my feet

swallowing raindrops

clear from China.


I got some questions that i don't understand about this poem, hope that someone can slove my problems. THANKS.

  1. Who is the speaker in the poem, and what is her relationship to the ocean to which she travels?

  2. Why is the poem called a “prayer”?

  3. In Laguna tradition poetry is not sharply distinguished from prose the way it is in the European tradition. Can you apply this statement to “Prayer to the Pacific”? That is, do you see both elements of poetry and elements of prose in this work?

  4. One of the most distinctive features of the poem is the way the lines are arranged on the page, sometimes aligned with each other and sometimes “opened up” with long breaks and varying line lengths. Why do you think Silko might have arranged the lines in that way?

  5. Although it is now believed that the earliest human populations to settle in North America did indeed come from Siberia across the Beringia land bridge, such a view is not always accepted by American Indians themselves, whose own creation stories suggest that they originated in the Americas and did not come from anywhere else. Why do you think Silko might have combined the theory of migration from Asia with American Indian oral traditions such as that of Grandfather Turtle?
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sorry, I forgot the login before i posted it.....
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Did you ever get help with this poem? I am dying with it. If you did please email me and hlep me thanks. Joseph G my email
I think the speaker is her as an adult and looking and recognizing the traditions she was taught orally and sometimes forgets about.

It is a prayer because she, the speaker is speaking to the ocean Ocean, Sister spirit of the Earth, deifying Her as the mother of her and her people.....

sorry i don't have more time... but I love this poem!!!

No matter how far the waters go, they go back to where they come from. So is her present experience linked to the past through myths.

Westerners think of time in linear terms, but in this case, time as well as space is treated as a cycle.
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the poem

i need help and i just don't get it!!

Her name is Lesli Marmon Siko

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