Monthly Archives: September 2015

autumn flares

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Paintings by Drea

Paintings by Drea

Fall Song
By Mary Oliver

Another year gone, leaving everywhere
its rich spiced residues: vines, leaves,

the uneaten fruits crumbling damply
in the shadows, unmattering back

from the particular island
of this summer, this NOW, that now is nowhere

except underfoot, moldering
in that black subterranean castle

of unobservable mysteries – roots and sealed seeds
and the wanderings of water. This

I try to remember when time’s measure
painfully chafes, for instance when autumn

flares out at the last, boisterous and like us longing
to stay – how everything lives, shifting

from one bright vision to another, forever
in these momentary pastures.

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on the sand

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Paintings by Drea

Paintings by Drea

The Return
by Mary Oliver

1.
When I went back to the sea
it wasn’t waiting.
Neither had it gone away.
All its musics were safe and sound; the circling gulls
were still a commonplace, the fluted shells
rolled on the shore
more beautiful than money –
oh, yes, more beautiful than money!
The thick-necked seals
stood in the salted waves with their soft, untroubled faces
gazing shoreward –

oh bed of silk,
lie back now on your prairies of blackness your fields of sunlight
that I may look at you.

I am happy to be home.

2.
I do not want to be frisky, and theatrical.
I do not want to go forward in the parade of names.
I do not want to be diligent or necessary or in any way
heavy.
From my mouth to God’s ear, I swear it; I want only
to be a song.

To wander around in the fields like a little reed bird.

To be a song.

3.
Two eggs rolled from the goose nest
down to the water and halfway into the water.
What good is hoping?
I went there softly, and gathered them
and put them back into the nest

of the goose who bit me hard with her
lovely long wings
and beat my face with her
lovely long wings
what good is trying?
She hissed horribly, wanting me to be frightened.
I wasn’t frightened.
I just knew it was over,
those cold white eggs would never hatch,

the birds would forget, soon, and go back,
to the light-soaked pond,
what good is remembering?

But I wasn’t frightened.

4.
Sometimes I really believe it, that I am going to
save my life

a little.

5.
When I found the seal pup alone on the far beach,
not sleeping but looking all around, I didn’t
reason it out, for reason would have sent me away,
I just
went close but not too close, and lay down on the sand
with my back toward it, and
pretty soon it rolled over, and rolled over
until the length of its body lay along
the length of my body, and so we touched, and maybe
our breathing together was some kind of heavenly conversation
in God’s delicate and magnifying language, the one
we don’t dare speak out loud,
not yet.

6.
Rumi the poet was a scholar also,
But Shams, his friend, was an angel.
By which I don’t mean anything patient and sweet,
When I read how he took Rumi’s books and threw them
into the duck pond,
I shouted for joy. Time to live now,
Shams meant.
I see him, turning away
casually toward the road, Rumi following, the books
floating and sinking among the screeching ducks,

oh, beautiful book-eating pond!

7.
The country of the mockingbird is where I now want to be,
thank you, yes.

The days when the snow-white swans might pass over the dunes
are the days I want to eat now, slowly and carefully
and with gratitude. Thank you.

The hours fresh and tidal are the hours I want to hold
in the palm of my hand, thank you, yes.

Such grace, thank you!

The gate I want to open now is the one that leads into
the flower-bed of my mind, thank you, yes.

Every day the slow, fresh wind, thank you, yes.

The wing, in the dark, that touches me.

Thank you.

Yes.

relaxed and easy

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Paintings by Drea

Paintings by Drea

The Sun
by Mary Oliver

Have you ever seen
anything
in your life
more wonderful
than the way the sun,
every evening,
relaxed and easy,
floats toward the horizon
and into the clouds or the hills,
or the rumpled sea,
and is gone—
and how it slides again
out of the blackness,
every morning,
on the other side of the world,
like a red flower
streaming upward on its heavenly oils,
say, on a morning in early summer,
at its perfect imperial distance—
and have you ever felt for anything
such wild love—
do you think there is anywhere, in any language,
a word billowing enough
for the pleasure
that fills you,
as the sun
reaches out,
as it warms you
as you stand there,
empty-handed—
or have you too
turned from this world—
or have you too
gone crazy
for power,
for things?

finding it delicious

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Paintings by Drea

Paintings by Drea

Moles
by Mary Oliver

Under the leaves, under
the first loose
levels of earth
they’re there — quick
as beetles, blind
as bats, shy
as hares but seen
less than these —
traveling
among the pale girders
of appleroot,
rockshelf, nests
of insects and black
pastures of bulbs
peppery and packed full
of the sweetest food:
spring flowers.
Field after field
you can see the traceries
of their long
lonely walks, then
the rains blur
even this frail hint of them —
so excitable,
so plush,
so willing to continue
generation after generation
accomplishing nothing
but their brief physical lives
as they live and die,
pushing and shoving
with their stubborn muzzles against
the whole earth,
finding it
delicious.

the mind and the heart

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First Days in San Miguel de Allende
Mary Oliver

1.
The flagellated Christ
is being carried
to San Miguel de Allende
He must be very heavy

yet the carriers persist
upon the sun flashed road
and the people follow

in the same way that people would seek
a river heard of but never yet found.
They are that thirsty.

2.
In the garden the jacaranda
is dropping
its blue festivities
everywhere,

the wren
is carrying sticks
into the hollow
behind the elbow

of the metal horse
that stands
in the bougainvillea
at the edge

of the singing pool.
I have come, for the first time, to Mexico.
And what has happened
to that intense ambition

with which I always awake?
Soaked up
in the colors, stolen
by the bloody Christs

of the churches,
by the children laughing
at my meager Spanish.
It is said

that when you rent a house here
the owners are not responsible
for church bells, barking dogs,
or firecrackers.

It is early in the morning.
Antonio is sweeping the blossoms away.
I am feeling something, incredibly,
like peace.

The wren is busy, my pencil idle.
The silks of the jacaranda, as though
it is the most important work in the world,
keep falling.

3.
The tops of the northbound trains are dangerous.
Still, they are heaped with hopefuls.

I understand their necessity.
Understanding, however, is not sharing.

Oh let there be a wedding of the
mind and the heart, if not today
then soon.

Meanwhile, let me change my own life
into something better.

Meanwhile, on the streets of San Miguel de Allende
it is easy to smile.
“Hola,” I say to the children.
“Hi,” they say, as I pass

with my passport, and money, in my pocket.

lives worth living

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Paintings by Drea

Paintings by Drea

Humpbacks
by Mary Oliver

There is, all around us,
this country
of original fire.
You know what I mean.
The sky, after all, stops at nothing, so something
has to be holding
our bodies
in its rich and timeless stables or else
we would fly away.

Off Stellwagen
off the Cape,
the humpbacks rise. Carrying their tonnage
of barnacles and joy
they leap through the water, they nuzzle back under it
like children
at play.

They sing, too.
And not for any reason
you can’t imagine.

Three of them
rise to the surface near the bow of the boat,
then dive
deeply, their huge scarred flukes
tipped to the air.
We wait, not knowing
just where it will happen; suddenly
they smash through the surface, someone begins
shouting for joy and you realize
it is yourself as they surge
upward and you see for the first time
how huge they are, as they breach,
and dive, and breach again
through the shining blue flowers
of the split water and you see them
for some unbelievable
part of a moment against the sky–
like nothing you’ve ever imagined–
like the myth of the fifth morning galloping
out of darkness, pouring
heavenward, spinning; then

they crash back under those black silks
and we all fall back
together into that wet fire, you
know what I mean.

I know a captain who has seen them
playing with seaweed, swimming
through the green islands, tossing
the slippery branches into the air.
I know a whale that will come to the boat whenever
she can, and nudge it gently along the bow
with her long flipper.
I know several lives worth living.

Listen, whatever it is you try
to do with your life, nothing will ever dazzle you
like the dreams of your body,
its spirit
longing to fly while the dead-weight bones
toss their dark mane and hurry
back into the fields of glittering fire
where everything,
even the great whale,
throbs with song.

uprightly burning

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Paintings by Drea

Paintings by Drea

The Sunflowers
by Mary Oliver

Come with me
into the field of sunflowers.
Their faces are burnished disks,
their dry spines

creak like ship masts,
their green leaves,
so heavy and many,
fill all day with the sticky

sugars of the sun.
Come with me
to visit the sunflowers,
they are shy

but want to be friends;
they have wonderful stories
of when they were young –
the important weather,

the wandering crows.
Don’t be afraid
to ask them questions!
Their bright faces,

which follow the sun,
will listen, and all
those rows of seeds –
each one a new life!

hope for a deeper acquaintance;
each of them, though it stands
in a crowd of many,
like a separate universe,

is lonely, the long work
of turning their lives
into a celebration
is not easy. Come

and let us talk with those modest faces,
the simple garments of leaves,
the coarse roots in the earth
so uprightly burning.