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Thirst by Mary Oliver

by Mary Oliver

Another morning and I wake with thirst
for the goodness I do not have. I walk
out to the pond and all the way God has
given us such beautiful lessons. Oh Lord,
I was never a quick scholar but sulked
and hunched over my books past the hour
and the bell; grant me, in your mercy,
a little more time. Love for the earth
and love for you are having such a long
conversation in my heart. Who knows what
will finally happen or where I will be sent,
yet already I have given a great many things
away, expecting to be told to pack nothing,
except the prayers which, with this thirst,
I am slowly learning.


A little more time—something I ask for, often and always, it seems. As if a plea, as if a bargain. If only I could have a little more because, oh Lord, haven’t we all needed that at some point?

Hunched over myself to protect my heart against the world, I go through life these days, wanting the strength to stay here a little longer. Wanting my heart to be a little stronger. Wanting my life to be a little better. But we play the cards we’re dealt with, don’t we. As we should. As we should.

What have I learned since I was last here: that my love for you is as deep as the mercy granted upon me for being the person I am, which is to say: ever lasting, and ever more.

Thirst by Mary OliverSOURCE

This poem appeared in Thirst: Poems by Mary Oliver, published by Beacon Press, 2007. Shared here with deep gratitude.


Thirst, a collection of forty-three new poems from Pulitzer Prize winner Mary Oliver, introduces two new directions in the poet’s work. Grappling with grief at the death of her beloved partner of over forty years, she strives to experience sorrow as a path to spiritual progress, grief as part of loving and not its end. And within these pages she chronicles for the first time her discovery of faith, without abandoning the love of the physical world that has been a hallmark of her work for four decades.”


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Comments (1)

  • thank you for sharing this – not one I’d read before and its a marvel! I like your comments too -makes the whole poem more personal to readers


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