MARGINALIA • SKIP TO THE POEM
A mantra for my life: Endure. Just that, an axis I could revolve around. As if the order of everything depends on my ability to dig in, and, on my chance that I buckle (I have weak knees), to stay there and get to know the earth..
It’s not just the one of course, but you know this: the words you pull out in the dark.
These days though: less is more. And yet more is more.
Maybe it’s time to think: Yield. Maybe it’s time to say: Surrender.
Something came up
out of the dark.
It wasn’t anything I had ever seen before.
It wasn’t an animal
or a flower,
unless it was both.
Something came up out of the water,
a head the size of a cat
but muddy and without ears.
I don’t know what God is.
I don’t know what death is.
But I believe they have between them
some fervent and necessary arrangement.
melancholy leaves me breathless.
Later I was in a field full of sunflowers.
I was feeling the head of midsummer.
I was thinking of the sweet, electric
drowse of creation,
when it began to break.
In the west, clouds gathered.
In an hour the sky was filled with them.
In an hour the sky was filled
with the sweetness of rain and the blast of lightning.
Followed by the deep bells of thunder.
Water from the heavens! Electricity from the source!
Both of them mad to create something!
The lighting brighter than any flower.
The thunder without a drowsy bone in its body.
Instructions for living a life:
Tell about it.
Two or three times in my life I discovered love.
Each time it seemed to solve everything.
Each time it solved a great many things
but not everything.
Yet left me as grateful as if it had indeed, and
thoroughly, solved everything.
God, rest in my heart
and fortify me,
take away my hunger for answers,
let the hours play upon my body
like the hands of my beloved.
Let the cathead appear again—
the smallest of your mysteries,
some wild cousin of my own blood probably—
some cousin of my own wild blood probably,
in the black dinner-bowl of the pond.
Death waits for me, I know it, around
one corner or another.
This doesn’t amuse me.
Neither does it frighten me.
After the rain, I went back into the field of sunflowers.
It was cool, and I was anything but drowsy.
I walked slowly, and listened
to the crazy roots, in the drenched earth, laughing and growing.
[expand title=”Endnotes” tag=”h6″ expanded=”true”]
This poem appeared in Red Bird by Mary Oliver, published by Beacon Press, 2008. Shared here with profound gratitude.
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