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Mysteries, Yes by Mary Oliver


Here is one thing I know: when my dog jumps on me and ruins my dress I am at once horrified at the paw prints but also secretly happy at this sudden display of love.

Here is another thing I know: when I put socks on my father before he goes to sleep I am telling him everything I can’t say because we are two people inept at tenderness even if we have never shied away from each other’s embrace.

What I don’t know I am practising to be grateful for.

Mysteries, Yes
Mary Oliver

Truly, we live with mysteries too marvelous
   to be understood.

How grass can be nourishing in the
   mouths of the lambs.
How rivers and stones are forever
   in allegiance with gravity
      while we ourselves dream of rising.
How two hands touch and the bonds will
   never be broken.
How people come, from delight or the
   scars of damage,
to the comfort of a poem.

Let me keep my distance, always, from those
   who think they have the answers.

Let me keep company always with those who say
   “Look!” and laugh in astonishment,
   and bow their heads.

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This poem appeared in Evidence: Poems by Mary Oliver, published by Beacon Press, 2009. Shared here with profound gratitude.

Read more works by Mary OliverFind books by this poet • Or view my library

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Comments (5)

  • Beautiful! Your observations about your dog and that tender moment with your father touched me. I have had similar moments. Especially one on rubbing lotion on my mother’s feet and legs, when she was dying, when her skin was so thirsty. And I loved the poem by Oliver. I always do. But this one was new to me.

  • so glad you’re back! I keep a tab open on my browser and wind down most days with a random poem… it is always a pleasant surprise to find a few new treasures waiting on the homepage. Thanks for sharing this littlw bit of your soul with the wotld.

  • Hello, just found your site this morning when I was seeing what others thought about H.D. ‘The Flowering of the Rod’. I am not a believer but I get completely absorbed in that poem, which is largely about resurrection. It seems to me like the poem a revelation, a vision we need every day.

  • Felisha Rabinowitz

    Thanks for this.


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