like a gift

Standard

Drea Art
dreajensengallery.pixels.com
facebook.com/dreajensenart
virtualartistaltar.com

Stars by Mary Oliver

Here in my head, language
keeps making its tiny noises.

How can I hope to be friends
with the hard white stars

whose flaring and hissing are not speech
but a pure radiance?

How can I hope to be friends
with the yawning spaces between them

where nothing, ever, is spoken?
Tonight, at the edge of the field,

I stood up very still, and looked up,
and tried to be empty of words.

What joy was it, that almost found me?
What amiable peace?

Then it was over, the wind
roused up in the oak trees behind me

and I fell back, easily.
Earth has a hundred thousand pure contraltos-

even the distant night bird
as it talks threat, as it talks love

over the cold, black fields.
Once, deep in the woods,

I found the skull of a bear
and it was utterly silent-

and once a river otter, in a steel trap,
and it too was utterly silent.

What can we do
but keep breathing in and out,

modest and willing, and in our places?
Listen, listen, I’m forever saying,

Listen to the river, to the hawk, to the hoof,
to the mockingbird, to the jack-in-the-pulpit-

then I come up with a few words, like a gift.
Even as now.

Even as the darkness has remained the pure, deep darkness.
Even as the stars have twirled a little, while I stood here,

looking up,
one hot sentence after another.

fill the bowl

Standard

Drea Art
dreajensengallery.pixels.com
facebook.com/dreajensenart
virtualartistaltar.com

How Would You Live Then? by Mary Oliver

What if a hundred rose-breasted grosbeaks
flew in circles around your head? What if
the mockingbird came into the house with you and
became your advisor? What if
the bees filled your walls with honey and all
you needed to do was ask them and they would fill
the bowl? What if the brook slid downhill just
past your bedroom window so you could listen
to its slow prayers as you fell asleep? What if
the stars began to shout their names, or to run
this way and that way above the clouds? What if
you painted a picture of a tree, and the leaves
began to rustle, and a bird cheerfully sang
from its painted branches? What if you suddenly saw
that the silver of water was brighter than the silver
of money? What if you finally saw
that the sunflowers, turning toward the sun all day
and every day – who knows how, but they do it – were
more precious, more meaningful than gold?

believe in kindness

Standard

Drea Art
dreajensengallery.pixels.com
facebook.com/dreajensenart
virtualartistaltar.com

Evidence (1.) by Mary Oliver

Where do I live? If I had no address, as many people
do not, I could nevertheless say that I lived in the
same town as the lilies of the field, and the still
waters.

Spring, and all through the neighborhood now there are
strong men tending flowers.

Beauty without purpose is beauty without virtue. But
all beautiful things, inherently, have this function –
to excite the viewers toward sublime thought. Glory
to the world, that good teacher.

Among the swans there is none called the least, or
the greatest.

I believe in kindness. Also in mischief. Also in
singing, especially when singing is not necessarily
prescribed.

As for the body, it is solid and strong and curious
and full of detail; it wants to polish itself; it
wants to love another body; it is the only vessel in
the world that can hold, in a a mix of power and
sweetness: words, song, gesture, passion, ideas,
ingenuity, devotion, merriment, vanity, and virtue.

Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable.

miraculous pyramid

Standard

Drea Art
dreajensengallery.pixels.com
facebook.com/dreajensenart
virtualartistaltar.com

Reckless Poem by Mary Oliver

Today again I am hardly myself.
It happens over and over.
It is heaven-sent.

It flows through me
like the blue wave.
Green leaves—you may believe this or not—
have once or twice
emerged from the tips of my fingers

somewhere
deep in the woods,
in the reckless seizure of spring.

Though, of course, I also know that other song,
the sweet passion of one-ness.

Just yesterday I watched an ant crossing a path, through the
tumbled pine needles she toiled.
And I thought: she will never live another life but this one.
And I thought: if she lives her life with all her strength
is she not wonderful and wise?
And I continued this up the miraculous pyramid of everything
until I came to myself.

And still, even in these northern woods, on these hills of sand,
I have flown from the other window of myself
to become white heron, blue whale,
red fox, hedgehog.
Oh, sometimes already my body has felt like the body of a flower!
Sometimes already my heart is a red parrot, perched
among strange, dark trees, flapping and screaming.

silent confirmation

Standard

Drea Art
dreajensengallery.pixels.com
facebook.com/dreajensenart
virtualartistaltar.com

Starlings in Winter by Mary Oliver

Chunky and noisy,
but with stars in their black feathers,
they spring from the telephone wire
and instantly

they are acrobats
in the freezing wind.
And now, in the theater of air,
they swing over buildings,

dipping and rising;
they float like one stippled star
that opens,
becomes for a moment fragmented,

then closes again;
and you watch
and you try
but you simply can’t imagine

how they do it
with no articulated instruction, no pause,
only the silent confirmation
that they are this notable thing,

this wheel of many parts, that can rise and spin
over and over again,
full of gorgeous life.

Ah, world, what lessons you prepare for us,
even in the leafless winter,
even in the ashy city.
I am thinking now
of grief, and of getting past it;

I feel my boots
trying to leave the ground,
I feel my heart
pumping hard. I want

to think again of dangerous and noble things.
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings.

hardy ascent

Standard

Drea Art
dreajensengallery.pixels.com
facebook.com/dreajensenart
virtualartistaltar.com

On Meditating, Sort Of by Mary Oliver

Meditation, so I’ve heard, is best accomplished
if you entertain a certain strict posture.
Frankly, I prefer just to lounge under a tree.
So why should I think I could ever be successful?

Some days I fall asleep, or land in that
even better place — half-asleep — where the world,
spring, summer, autumn, winter —
flies through my mind in its
hardy ascent and its uncompromising descent.

So I just lie like that, while distance and time
reveal their true attitudes: they never
heard of me, and never will, or ever need to.

Of course I wake up finally
thinking, how wonderful to be who I am,
made out of earth and water,
my own thoughts, my own fingerprints —
all that glorious, temporary stuff.

some rare person

Standard

Drea Art
dreajensengallery.pixels.com
facebook.com/dreajensenart
virtualartistaltar.com

In the Storm by Mary Oliver

Some black ducks
were shrugged up
on the shore.
It was snowing

hard, from the east,
and the sea
was in disorder.
Then some sanderlings,

five inches long
with beaks like wire,
flew in,
snowflakes on their backs,

and settled
in a row
behind the ducks —
whose backs were also

covered with snow —
so close
they were all but touching,
they were all but under

the roof of the duck’s tails,
so the wind, pretty much,
blew over them.
They stayed that way, motionless,

for maybe an hour,
then the sanderlings,
each a handful of feathers,
shifted, and were blown away

out over the water
which was still raging.
But, somehow,
they came back

and again the ducks,
like a feathered hedge,
let them
crouch there, and live.

If someone you didn’t know
told you this,
as I am telling you this,
would you believe it?

Belief isn’t always easy.
But this much I have learned —
if not enough else —
to live with my eyes open.

I know what everyone wants
is a miracle.
This wasn’t a miracle.
Unless, of course, kindness —

as now and again
some rare person has suggested —
is a miracle.
As surely it is.

down to the shore

Standard

Drea Art
dreajensengallery.pixels.com
facebook.com/dreajensenart
virtualartistaltar.com

I Go Down to the Shore by Mary Oliver

I go down to the shore in the morning
and depending on the hour the waves
are rolling in or moving out,
and I say, oh, I am miserable,
what shall—
what should I do? And the sea says
in its lovely voice:
Excuse me, I have work to do.

listening

Standard

Drea Art
dreajensengallery.pixels.com
facebook.com/dreajensenart
virtualartistaltar.com

Mockingbirds by Mary Oliver

This morning
two mockingbirds
in the green field
were spinning and tossing

the white ribbons
of their songs
into the air.
I had nothing

better to do
than listen.
I mean this
seriously.

In Greece,
a long time ago,
an old couple
opened their door

to two strangers
who were,
it soon appeared,
not men at all,

but gods.
It is my favorite story–
how the old couple
had almost nothing to give

but their willingness
to be attentive–
but for this alone
the gods loved them

and blessed them–
when they rose
out of their mortal bodies,
like a million particles of water

from a fountain,
the light
swept into all the corners
of the cottage,

and the old couple,
shaken with understanding,
bowed down–
but still they asked for nothing

but the difficult life
which they had already.
And the gods smiled, as they vanished,
clapping their great wings.

Wherever it was
I was supposed to be
this morning–
whatever it was I said

I would be doing–
I was standing
at the edge of the field–
I was hurrying

through my own soul,
opening its dark doors–
I was leaning out;
I was listening.