You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
When a poet dies….Another poet gets their wings!
The Family by Mary Oliver
The dark things of the wood
Are coming from their caves,
They browse the orchard,
Nibble the sea of grasses
Around our yellow rooms,
Scarcely looking in
To see what we are doing
And if they still know us.
We hear them, or think we do:
The muzzle lapping moonlight,
The tooth in the apple.
Put another log on the fire;
Mozart, again, on the turntable,
Still there is a sorrow
With us in the room.
We remember the cave.
In our dreams we go back
Or they come to visit.
They also like music.
We eat leaves together.
They are our brothers.
They are the family
We have run away from.
R.I.P. – Mary Oliver/2019
I read the papers,
I unfold them and examine them in the sunlight.
The way the red mortars, in photographs,
arc down into the neighborhoods
like stars, the way death
combs everything into a gray rubble before
the camera moves on. What
dark part of my soul
shivers: you don’t want to know more
about this. And then: you don’t know anything
unless you do. How the sleepers
wake and run to the cellars,
how the children scream, their tongues
trying to swim away–
how the morning itself appears
like a slow white rose
while the figures climb over the bubbled thresholds,
move among the smashed cars, the streets
where the clanging ambulances won’t
stop all day–death and death, messy death–
death as history, death as a habit–
how sometimes the camera pauses while a family
counts itself, and all of them are alive,
their mouths dry caves of wordlessness
in the smudged moons of their faces,
a craziness we have so far no name for–
all this I read in the papers,
in the sunlight,
I read with my cold, sharp eyes.