Monthly Archives: November 2016

dream of rising

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Mysteries, Yes
by Mary Oliver

Truly, we live with mysteries too marvelous
to be understood.

How grass can be nourishing in the
mouths of the lambs.
How rivers and stones are forever
in allegiance with gravity
while we ourselves dream of rising.
How two hands touch and the bonds will
never be broken.
How people come, from delight or the
scars of damage,
to the comfort of a poem.

Let me keep my distance, always, from those
who think they have the answers.

Let me keep company always with those who say
“Look!” and laugh in astonishment,
and bow their heads.

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particles of water

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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.

mind of its own

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That Little Beast
by Mary Oliver

That pretty little beast, a poem,
has a mind of its own.
Sometimes I want it to crave apples
but it wants red meat.
Sometimes I want to walk peacefully
on the shore
and it wants to take off all its clothes
and dive in.

Sometimes I want to use small words
and make them important
and it starts shouting the dictionary,
the opportunities.

Sometimes I want to sum up and give thanks,
putting things in order
and it starts dancing around the room
on its four furry legs, laughing
and calling me outrageous.

But sometimes, when I’m thinking about you,
and no doubt smiling,
it sits down quietly, one paw under its chin,
and just listens.

unimaginable bird

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White-Eyes
By Mary Oliver

In winter
all the singing is in
the tops of the trees
where the wind-bird

with its white eyes
shoves and pushes
among the branches.
Like any of us

he wants to go to sleep,
but he’s restless—
he has an idea,
and slowly it unfolds

from under his beating wings
as long as he stays awake.
But his big, round music, after all,
is too breathy to last.

So, it’s over.
In the pine-crown
he makes his nest,
he’s done all he can.

I don’t know the name of this bird,
I only imagine his glittering beak
tucked in a white wing
while the clouds—

which he has summoned
from the north—
which he has taught
to be mild, and silent—

thicken, and begin to fall
into the world below
like stars, or the feathers
of some unimaginable bird

that loves us,
that is asleep now, and silent—
that has turned itself
into snow.

dream of rising

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Mysteries, Yes
by Mary Oliver

Truly, we live with mysterious too marvelous
to be understood.

How grass can be nourishing in the
mouths of the lambs.
How rivers and stone are forever
in allegiance with gravity
while we ourselves dream of rising.
How two hands touch and the bonds will
never be broken.
How people come, from delight or the
scars of damage,
to the comfort of a poem.

Let me keep my distance, always, from those
who think they have the answers.

Let me keep company always with those who say
“Look!” and laugh in astonishment,
and bow their heads.

tiny noises

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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 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 very still, and looked up,

and tried to be empty of words.

What joy was it, that almost found me?

What amiable peace?…

Once, deep in the woods,

I found the white 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 on breathing in and out,

modest and wiling, 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 remains the pure, deep darkness.

Even as the stars have twirled a little, while I stood here,

looking up,

one hot sentence after another.

heart is beating

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Moments
By Mary Oliver

There are moments that cry out to be fulfilled.
Like, telling someone you love them.
Or giving your money away, all of it.

Your heart is beating, isn’t it?
You’re not in chains, are you?

There is nothing more pathetic than caution
when headlong might save a life,
even, possibly, your own.