Tag Archives: Mary Oliver

What Better Thing to Do

Yesterday, Mary Oliver posted a bit of her poem, ” Mockingbirds,” on Facebook. The Atlantic featured it on April 30 as the poem of the day but as Oliver pointed out, a poem can be the poem of the day on any day. Indeed.

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.*

My mother taught me listening but it was decades before I heard her. Now, I wonder if I ever have anything better to do.

*For the rest of  the poem, please click here.

Aim for Even posts offer equanimity a dose at a time. No day or dose is ever the same, even if the aim is. You may read about the origins of Aim for Even here or on this site’s About page.

When the Journey Seems a Jungle

On so many days, the journey daunts. It’s the obstacle. It’s the path. It’s both. You choose the order, if that’s a must for you. Some days I stagger but I also admit to a bit of swagger. Those days cost me more, ultimately.

This day, the journey is loud with “voices I leave behind.” I have miles to go, new voices to know but not all do I let go. A constant companion is Mary Oliver who always seems to know.

The Journey

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 you could save.

Mary Oliver

Aim for Even posts offer equanimity a dose at a time. No day or dose is ever the same, even if the aim is. You may read about the origins of Aim for Even here or on this site’s About page.

Mary Oliver: Song of the Builders

Song of the Builders

The Pause of Life 101313On a summer morning

I sat down

on a hillside

to think about God –

a worthy pastime.

Near me, I saw

a single cricket;

it was moving the grains of the hillside

this way and that way.

How great was its energy,

how humble its effort.

Let us hope

it will always be like this,

each of us going on

in our inexplicable ways

building the universe.

Mary Oliver, from Why I Wake Early (2004)

How easy it is to forget that we are universe builders–each one of us. Humbling indeed is its importance.

Aim for Even posts offer equanimity a dose at a time. No day or dose is ever the same, even if the aim is. You may read about the origins of Aim for Even here or on this site’s About page.

The Gift of the Giving Season

I always warm to the spirit of the giving season. It offers a rare moment of connection, an opportunity to change. Often, we pledge to do just that but the spirit is, at best, seasonal.

Change is harder than we thought, and we resume our old ways. We forget the moment that brought us so close to beauty.

Fortunately, poets never forget. They have it figured out.

The Swan

Did you too see it, drifting, all night, on the black river?
Did you see it in the morning, rising into the silvery air –
An armful of white blossoms,
A perfect commotion of silk and linen as it leaned
into the bondage of its wings; just a snowbank, a bank of lilies,
Biting the air with its black beak?
Did you hear it, fluting and whistling
A shrill dark music – like the rain pelting the trees – like a waterfall
Knifing down the black ledges?
And did you see it, finally, just under the clouds – 
A white cross Streaming across the sky, its feet
Like black leaves, its wings
Like the stretching light of the river?
And did you feel it, in your heart, how it pertained to everything?
And have you too finally figured out what beauty is for?
And have you changed your life?

Mary Oliver

miccosukee-water-lily-0713

Aim for Even posts offer equanimity a dose at a time. No day or dose is ever the same, even if the aim is. You may read about the origins of Aim for Even here or on this site’s About page.

A Mary Oliver Kind of Sunday

Roses

Everyone now and again wonders about

those questions that have no ready

answers: first cause, God’s existence,

what happens when the curtain goes down

and nothing stops it, not kissing,

not going to the mall, not the Super

Bowl.

Bud Opening 0814“Wild roses,” I said to them one morning.

“Do you have the answers? And if you do,

would you tell me?”

The roses laughed softly. “Forgive us,”

they said. “But as you can see, we are

just now entirely busy being roses.”

Mary Oliver 

Best I, too, be busy being for too long have I tarried at everything else. 

Aim for Even posts offer equanimity in daily doses. No day or dose is ever the same, even if the aim is. You may read about the origins of Aim for Even here or on this site’s About page.