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Wild Oats by W.S. Merwin


It will be okay again. Maybe not now. Maybe not for a while. Not for a long while. There will be more losses perhaps. A deeper river of pain unlike any other. It will be difficult, but I am here to tell you: it will be okay again.

You might say it’s foolish to have hope at a time like this. I think it’s necessary. Listen: I have knelt in the dark with my palms raised up begging to be gone. I know what it took to get there and what was taken away for me to want to stay there. And yet I am saying: it will be okay again.

I am not naive to think things will be fixed on their own. It will take a great amount of courage, day by day, to get out of bed and want to do it all over and over and over. It’s exactly what you think it is—and some more.

But listen—from the fathomless pit of myself where I have experienced profound anguish, I say to you: it will be okay again.

Wild Oats
W.S. Merwin

Watching the first sunlight
touch the tops of the palms
what could I ask

All the beads have gone
from the old string
and the string does not miss them

The daughters of memory
never pronounce
their own names

In the language of heaven
the angel said
go make your own garden

I dream I am here
in the morning
and the dream is its own time

Looking into the old well
I see my own face
then another behind it

There I am
morning clouds
in the east wind

No one is in the garden
the autumn daisies
have the day to themselves

All night in the dark valley
the sound of rain arriving
from another time

September when the wind
drops and to us it seems
that the days are waiting

I needed my mistakes
in their own order
to get me here

Here is the full moon
brining us

I call that singing bird my friend
though I know nothing else about him
and he does not know I exist

What is it that I keep forgetting
now I have lost it again
right here

I have to keep telling myself
why I am going away again
I do not seem to listen

In my youth I believed in somewhere else
I put faith in travel
now I am becoming my own tree

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This poem appeared in The Essential W.S. Merwin, edited by Michael Wiegers, published by Copper Canyon Press, 2017. Shared here with profound gratitude.

Read more works by W.S. MerwinFind books by this poet • Or view my library 

Explore poems in pursuit of: growing upgrowing oldnature • Or browse the index


[expand title=”Dear Reader” tag=”h6″]

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