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Archive for January 18th, 2019

Poetry Friday round-up is at The Miss Rumphius Effect

Mary Oliver has died and the whole world is mourning.  I checked my Facebook page at the end of the day and found that most of my “friends” were posting Mary Oliver’s words.  Every one of them connected me to her, to the natural world, and to these people.  It was like our own wake, of sorts.

I was introduced to the poetry of Mary Oliver by my good friend Nettie who died this past fall.  I imagine they are both writing poems on the clouds.  When I was at a crossroad in my teaching career, Nettie sent me the poem Wild Geese.  I listened to it over and over and have most of the lines memorized.  This poem saved me at a time when I needed to be saved.

 

 

I looked on the poetry shelf in my study and pulled out my collection of Mary Oliver books.  I found that I have two copies of A Thousand Mornings.  If you would like a copy and live in the continental US, leave a comment.  I’ll let you know by email if you are the winner.

Mary Oliver had a way of placing you in the moment with her and in a sense, saying a prayer.  This poem from A Thousand Mornings places me with her, thinking through things, and noticing with pen in air.

I Happened to be Standing

I don’t know where prayers go,
or what they do.
Do cats pray, while they sleep
half-asleep in the sun?
Does the opossum pray as it
crosses the street?
The sunflowers? The old black oak
growing older every year?
I know I can walk through the world,
along the shore or under the trees,
with my mind filled with things
of little importance, in full
self-attendance. A condition I can’t really
call being alive.
Is a prayer a gift, or a petition,
or does it matter?
The sunflowers blaze, maybe that’s their way.
Maybe the cats are sound asleep.  Maybe not.

While I was thinking this I happened to be standing
just outside my door, with my notebook open,
which is the way I begin every morning.
Then a wren in the privet began to sing.
He was positively drenched in enthusiasm,
I don’t know why.  And yet, why not.
I wouldn’t persuade you from whatever you believe
or whatever you don’t.  That’s your business.
But I thought, of the wren’s singing, what could this be
if it isn’t a prayer?
So I just listened, my pen in the air.

–Mary Oliver, A Thousand Mornings. The Penguin Press, New York, 2012.

 

I do not presume that my poetry is in any realm of comparison to Mary Oliver’s, but I was moved to write this morning, a way of expressing how her words are written on my heart.

 

A Misty Mary Morning

I’m walking through a misty world
thinking of Mary.  Her words turn
night to day, day to night,
an answer to prayer, a comfort to loss.

She taught me to notice things
like the bird breaking dawn with song.
She would notice the sound
and sing along.  I hold hands

with every poet and poetry lover
across the world. We are united
in our collective breath
wishing with Mary for a resurrection

of amazement.

(c) Margaret Simon, 2019

 

Nikki Grimes wrote this post on Facebook (and gave me permission to repost.)

Mary Oliver, Sister of my heart, how I will miss you! Your absence feels impossible.

IN PASSING

A poet passes
soul rising heavy as ode,
or light as haiku.
Who knows? But You, the Author
whose words are for her, alone.

(c) 2019 Nikki Grimes

 

 

 

 

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