Sunday, November 23, 2008

In Reply To Mary

Thanks to Sensei for alerting me to Mary Oliver on this day.

I am completely fond of Mary Oliver. She writes at the edge of things. Two more steps and you have to have wings. There is no more ground beneath. Or she writes at the center of things. Open your heart and find life so intimately present that joy is the only sane response. For example,

The Journey
Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice --
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do --
determined to save
the only life you could save.

In Reply To Mary

It startled my heart.
My eyes, shocked, opened to you
As you danced for me.
You danced my soul's truth
Even though I know there's more
Than that in this world.

I've been told often
Many other truths that stand
So firmly planted --
More than opinions
But less present in my soul
Than this dance you do.

So I thank you for your grace,
For your beauty, your wild life.

You came not for me
But for the wind, the stones, stars,
For the love of things.
I have come by chance
Or by grace or by design
Not my own, come here

To change through you this moment,
Through this holy gift you give.

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