Here is an event invitation for Sweet 116.
The Lord’s terrifying kindness has come to me.
It was only a small silvery thing-say a piece of silver cloth, or a thousand spider webs woven together, or a small handful of aspen leaves, with their silver backs shimmering. And it came leaping out of the closed coffin; it flew into the air, it danced snappingly around the church rafters, it vanished through the ceiling.
I spoke there, briefly, of the loved one gone. I gazed at the people in the pews, some of them weeping. I knew I must someday, write this down.
On cold evenings
With ownership of half her mind-
The other half having flown back to Bohemia
Spread newspapers over the porch floor
So, she said, the garden ants could crawl
As under a blanket, and keep warm,
And what shall I wish for myself,
But, being so struck by the lightning of years,
To be like her with what is left, that loving.
In the morning the blue heron is busy
stepping, slowly, around the edge of the
pond. He is tall and shining. His wings, folded
against his body, fit so neatly they
make of him, when he lifts his shoulders and begins to rise
into the air, a great surprise. Also
he carries so light the terrible sword-beak. Then
he is gone over the trees.
I am so happy to be alive in this world
I would like to live forever, but I am
content not to. Seeing what I have seen
has filled me; believing what I believe
has filled me.
The first words of this page are
hardly thought of when the bird
circles back over the trees; it floats down
like an armful of blue flowers, a bundle of light
coming to refresh itself again in the black water, and I think:
maybe it is or it isn’t the same bird-maybe it’s
the first one’s child, or the child of its child.
What I mean is, our deliverance from Time
and the continuance, if we only steward them well,
of earthly things. So maybe it’s myself still standing here, or
someone else, like myself hot with the joy of this world, and
filled with praise.
I would like to write a poem about the world that has in it
But it seems impossible.
Whatever the subject, the morning sun
The tulip feels the heat and flaps its petals open and becomes a star.
The ants bore into the peony bud and there is a dark
pinprick well of sweetness.
As for the stones on the beach, forget it.
Each one could be set in gold.
So I tried with my eyes shut, but of course the birds
And the aspen trees were shaking the sweetest music
out of their leaves.
And that was followed by, guess what, a momentous and
as comes to all of us, in little earfuls, if we’re not too
hurried to hear it.
As for spiders, how the dew hangs in their webs
even if they say nothing, or seem to say nothing.
So fancy is the world, who knows, maybe they sing.
So fancy is the world, who knows, maybe the stars sing too,
and the ants, and the peonies, and the warm stones,
so happy to be where they are, on the beach, instead of being
locked up in gold.
By Mary Oliver
Over the hill she came, her long legs very scarcely
touching the ground, the cups of her ears listening, with obvious pleasure,
to the wind as it stroked the dark arms of the pines;
once or twice she lingered and browsed some moist patch
of half-wrapped leaves, then came along to where I was-or nearly-
and then, among the thousand bodies of the trees, their splashes of light and their shadows, she was gone;
and I, who was heavy that day with thoughts as small as my whole life would ever be, and especially
compared to the thousand shining trees, gave thanks to whatever sent her in my direction that I might see, and strive to be,
as clearly she was, beyond sorrow, soft-lipped angel walking on air.
a bounce upward at the end to let them take
their own choice of position, the wheels, the spurs,
the little sheds of the buds. It took, to do this,
perhaps fifteen minutes.
Fifteen minutes of music
with nothing playing.
It is only a small mountain
as mountains go,
too stubby for any map.
But still, in my boots,
I climbed and climbed until at last there was nothing
but the blue sky
and a single final pasture
and a few not-very -tall trees-
and from under these came running
a fawn on its tumbly legs,
the sound of its wanting falling
from its pink, pursed mouth.
But I knew the rule:
Don’t touch it, or the doe
might never come back!
So what could I do? It almost
before I slung myself into a tree.
And there I was
higher even than the mountain,
perched for hours
while beauty held me tightly…
I didn’t move
until the doe came back,
angry and snorting
and she and the fawn tiptoed away.
And so I was free.
And there was nothing to do,
as there is never anything to do,
but to swing down
bough after bough-
to hurry down, field after field,
through the pale twilight,
to be greeted by the people
who loved me, far below.