Monthly Archives: March 2020

entirely content

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Drea Art
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What Gorgeous Thing
by Mary Oliver

I do not know what gorgeous thing
the bluebird keeps saying,
his voice easing out of his throat,
beak, body into the pink air
of the early morning. I like it
whatever it is. Sometimes
it seems the only thing in the world
that is without dark thoughts.
Sometimes it seems the only thing
in the world that is without
questions that can’t and probably
never will be answered, the
only thing that is entirely content
with the pink, then clear white
morning and, gratefully, says so.

dangerous and noble

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Drea Art
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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.

seal pup

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Drea Art
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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 black beak with the pink
tongue-tip quivering,
and beat my arms 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.

turning in circles

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Drea Art
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Where Does the Dance Begin, Where Does It End?
by Mary Oliver

Don’t call this world adorable, or useful, that’s not it.
It’s frisky, and a theater for more than fair winds.
The eyelash of lightning is neither good nor evil.
The struck tree burns like a pillar of gold.

But the blue rain sinks, straight to the white
feet of the trees
whose mouths open.
Doesn’t the wind, turning in circles, invent the dance?
Haven’t the flowers moved, slowly, across Asia, then Europe,
until at last, now, they shine
in your own yard?

Don’t call this world an explanation, or even an education.

When the Sufi poet whirled, was he looking
outward, to the mountains so solidly there
in a white-capped ring, or was he looking

to the center of everything: the seed, the egg, the idea
that was also there,
beautiful as a thumb
curved and touching the finger, tenderly,
little love-ring,

as he whirled,
oh jug of breath,
in the garden of dust?

looking up

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Drea Art
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GRATITUDE
by Mary Oliver

I was walking the field,
in the fatness of spring
the field was flooded with water, water stained black,
black from the tissues of leaves, oak mostly, but also
beech, also
blueberry, bay.
Then the big hawk rose. In her eyes
I could see how thoroughly she
hated me. And there was her nest, like a round raft

with three white eggs in it, just

above the black water.

* * *

She floats away
climbs the invisible air
on her masculine wings

then glides back

agitated responsible
climbs again angry

does not look at me.

Halfway to my knees
in the black water
I look up

I cannot stop looking up

how much time has passed
I can hardly see her now

swinging in that blue blaze.

* * *

There are days when I rise from my desk desolate.
There are days when the field water and the slender grasses
and the wild hawks
have it all over the rest of us

whether or not they make clear sense, ride the beautiful
long spine of grammar, whether or not they rhyme.

beauty is my work

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Drea Art
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The Osprey
by Mary Oliver

This morning
an osprey
with its narrow
black-and-white face

and its cupidinous eyes
leaned down
from a leafy tree
to look into the lake – it looked

a long time, then its powerful
shoulders punched out a little
and it fell,
it rippled down

into the water –
then it rose, carrying,
in the clips of its feet,
a slim and limber

silver fish, a scrim
of red rubies
on its flashing sides.
All of this

was wonderful
to look at,
so I simply stood there,
in the blue morning,

looking.
Then I walked away.
Beauty is my work,
but not my only work –

later,
when the fish was gone forever
and the bird was miles away,
I came back

and stood on the shore, thinking –
and if you think
thinking is a mild exercise,
beware!

I mean, I was swimming for my life –
and I was thundering this way and that way
in my shirt of feathers –
and I could not resolve anything long enough

to become one thing
except this: the imaginer.
It was inescapable
as over and over it flung me,

without pause or mercy it flung me
to both sides of the beautiful water –
to both sides
of the knife.

another voice

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Drea Art
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Praying
by Mary Oliver

It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.