Monthly Archives: July 2017

harbor of your longing

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Mornings at Blackwater
By Mary Oliver

For years, every morning, I drank
from Blackwater Pond.
It was flavored with oak leaves and also, no doubt,
the feet of ducks.

And always it assuaged me
from the dry bowl of the very far past.

What I want to say is
that the past is the past,
and the present is what your life is,
and you are capable
of choosing what that will be,
darling citizen.

So come to the pond,
or the river of your imagination,
or the harbor of your longing,
and put your lips to the world.

And live
your life.

branches and stones

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THE JOURNEY
by Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice—
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do—
determined to save
the only life that you could save.

inside the petals

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Fireflies
by Mary Oliver

At Blackwater
fireflies
are not even a dime a dozen–
they are free,

and each floats and turns
among the branches of the oaks
and the swamp azaleas
looking for another

as, who doesn’t?
Oh, blessings
on the intimacy
inside fruition,

be it foxes
or the fireflies
or the dampness inside the petals
of a thousand flowers.

Though Eden is lost
its loveliness
remains in the heart
and the imagination;

he would take her
in a boat
over the dark water;
she would take him

to an island she knows
where the blue flag grows wild
and the grass is deep,
where the birds

perch together,
feather to feather,
on the bough.
And the fireflies,

blinking their little lights,
hurry toward one another.
And the world continues,
God willing.

dream of you

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IN THE PINE WOODS, CROW AND OWL
By Mary Oliver

Great bumble. Sleek
slicer. How the crows
dream of you, caught at last
in their black beaks. Dream of you
leaking your life away. Your wings
crumbling like old bark. Feathers
falling from your breast like leaves,
and your eyes two bolts
of lightning gone to sleep.
Eight of them
fly over the pinewoods looking down
into the branches. they know you are
there somewhere, fat and drowsy
from your night of rabbits and rats. Once
this month you caught a crow. Scraps of him
flew far and wide, the news
rang all day through the woods. The cold
river of their hatred roils
day and night: you are their dream, their waking,
their quarry, their demon. You
are the pine god who never speaks but holds
the keys to everything while they fly
morning after morning against the shut doors. You
will have a slow life, and eat them, one by one.
They know it. They hate you. Still
when one of them spies you out, all stream
straight toward violence and confrontation.
As though it helped to see the living proof.
The bone-crushing prince of the dark days, gloomy
at the interruption of his rest. Hissing
and snapping, grabbing about him, dreadful
as death’s drum; mournful, unalterable fact.

headlong

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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.

with invitation

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The Fist
By Mary Oliver

There are days
when the sun goes down
like a fist,
though of course

if you see anything
in the heavens
in this way
you had better get

your eyes checked
or, better, still,
your diminished spirit.
The heavens

have no fist,
or wouldn’t they have been
shaking it
for a thousand years now,

and even
longer than that,
at the dull, brutish
ways of mankind—

heaven’s own
creation?
Instead: such patience!
Such willingness

to let us continue!
To hear,
little by little,
the voices—

only, so far, in
pockets of the world—
suggesting
the possibilities

of peace?
Keep looking.
Behold, how the fist opens
with invitation.