patience and happiness

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Drea Art

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Can You Imagine?
by Mary Oliver

For example, what the trees do
not only in lightning storms
or the watery dark of a summer’s night
or under the white nets of winter
but now, and now, and now – whenever
we’re not looking. Surely you can’t imagine
they don’t dance, from the root up, wishing
to travel a little, not cramped so much as wanting
a better view, or more sun, or just as avidly
more shade – surely you can’t imagine they just
stand there loving every
minute of it, the birds or the emptiness, the dark rings
of the years slowly and without a sound
thickening, and nothing different unless the wind,
and then only in its own mood, comes
to visit, surely you can’t imagine
patience, and happiness, like that.

something real

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Drea Art
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Little Owl Who Lives in the Orchard
by Mary Oliver

His beak could open a bottle,
and his eyes – when he lifts their soft lids –
go on reading something
just beyond your shoulder –
Blake, maybe,
or the Book of Revelation.

Never mind that he eats only
the black-smocked crickets,
and the dragonflies if they happen
to be out late over the ponds, and of course
the occasional festal mouse.
Never mind that he is only a memo
from the offices of fear –

it’s not size but surge that tells us
when we’re in touch with something real,
and when I hear him in the orchard
fluttering
down the little aliminum
ladder of his scream –
when I see his wings open, like two black ferns,

a flurry of palpitations
as cold as sleet
rackets across the marshlands
of my heart
like a wild spring day.

Somewhere in the universe,
in the gallery of important things,
the babyish owl, ruffled and rakish,
sits on its pedestal.
Dear, dark dapple of plush!
A message, reads the label,
from that mysterious conglomerate:
Oblivion and Co.
The hooked head stares
from its house of dark, feathery lace.
It could be a valentine.

love what is mortal

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Drea Art
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In Blackwater Woods
by Mary Oliver

Look, the trees
are turning
their own bodies
into pillars

of light,
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
and fulfillment,

the long tapers
of cattails
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders

of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is

nameless now.
Every year
everything
I have ever learned

in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side

is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.

eternity as another possibility

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Drea Art
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When Death Comes
By Mary Oliver

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox

when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,
tending, as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.

When it’s over, I want to say all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.

I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.

sweeter arrangement

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Drea Art
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Little Dog’s Rhapsody in the Night
by Mary Oliver

He puts his cheek against mine
and makes small, expressive sounds.
And when I’m awake, or awake enough

he turns upside down, his four paws
in the air
and his eyes dark and fervent.

“Tell me you love me,” he says.

“Tell me again.”

Could there be a sweeter arrangement? Over and over
he gets to ask.
I get to tell.

blackberries hang

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Drea Art
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August
by Mary Oliver

When the blackberries hang
swollen in the woods, in the branches
nobody owns, I spend

all day among the high
branches, reaching
my ripped arms, thinking

of nothing, cramming
the black honey of summer
into my mouth; all day my body

accepts what it is. In the dark
creeks that run by there is
this thick paw of my life darting among

the black bells, the leaves; there is
this happy tongue.

willingness to be attentive

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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.

days of rapture

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Hummingbird Pauses at the Trumpet Vine
by Mary Oliver

Who doesn’t love
roses, and who
doesn’t love the lilies
of the black ponds

floating like flocks
of tiny swans,
and of course, the flaming
trumpet vine

where the hummingbird comes
like a small green angel, to soak
his dark tongue
in happiness –

and who doesn’t want
to live with the brisk
motor of his heart
singing

like a Schubert
and his eyes
working and working like those days of rapture,
by Van Gogh in Arles?

Look! for most of the world
is waiting
or remembering –
most of the world is time

when we’re not here,
not born yet, or died –
a slow fire
under the earth with all
our dumb wild blind cousins
who also
can’t even remember anymore
their own happiness –

Look! and then we will be
like the pale cool
stones, that last almost
forever.

instinct and imagination

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Poem
By Mary Oliver

The spirit
likes to dress up like this:
ten fingers,
ten toes,

shoulders, and all the rest
at night
in the black branches,
in the morning

in the blue branches
of the world.
It could float, of course,
but would rather

plumb rough matter.
Airy and shapeless thing,
it needs
the metaphor of the body,

lime and appetite,
the oceanic fluids;
it needs the body’s world,
instinct

and imagination
and the dark hug of time,
sweetness
and tangibility,

to be understood,
to be more than pure light
that burns
where no one is—

so it enters us—
in the morning
shines from brute comfort
like a stitch of lightning;

and at night
lights up the deep and wondrous
drownings of the body
like a star.

more than enough

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Drea Art

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I Wake Close to Morning
by Mary Oliver

Why do people keep asking to see
God’s identity papers
when the darkness opening into morning
is more than enough?
Certainly any god might turn away in disgust.
Think of Sheba approaching
the kingdom of Solomon.
Do you think she had to ask,
“Is this the place?”