The Summer Day
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean—
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down—
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
"The Summer Day" by Mary Oliver, from The Truro Bear and Other Adventures: Poems and Essays. © Beacon Press, 2008.
Monday, June 30, 2008
The Summer Day
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
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Monday, June 9, 2008
The Dreams of the Old
So they are around our table—my mother,
my father, an uncle—and we begin to talk
about our dreams—with some urgency—
as if our dreams could pinpoint our psychic
dangers—our unrealized goals—our
ordinary fear of death and the future.
My mother talks about her dreams of flying
over the little town where she grew up—
over the old Opera House—down Main Street—
with all the people she knew below her—
then towards the gently flowing river—
that seemed to flow into the sunset—
toward which she soared—she lingered
with us on that image—as if she had said
enough—then—my uncle talked about
his recurring dream—he's going to be
in a play—but no one's bothered
to rehearse the scenes—he's standing
in the wings waiting to go on—he doesn't
know what he will say—all through this
my father is silent—he is closest to death—
we all know this—we forgive him his silence—
his silence—has his presence—as in a dream.
He could be funny, but only in small groups
of meek women—which is to say—he was not
very funny. He had beautiful and expressive
hands which he normally kept in his pockets.
When he was roused to passion, as he seldom was,
it would usually go unnoticed. He did have
strong feelings for animals—his family crest included
the loon—that symbol of fidelity and lonely song.
He was quite a mimic—I personally remember
how he could sound just like Bobby Kennedy—underwater—
if he was drunk enough. I suppose you all remember
his obsession with orchids—it was strange at the end—
his fretting over their blossoming—when would it happen?
Then, his disappointment when they would fade and drop.
He was a collector of sales receipts—some of you
may not know this—he would ask you to empty
your pockets to show him where you’d been, what you bought.
At his confirmation on June 4, 1954, he chose a verse
from the Old Testament, The Book of Haggai—“He that
earneth wages earneth wages to put in a bag with a hole.
Consider your ways, sayeth the Lord.” Let us consider
him . . . as we head downstairs. There must be other stories.
BIFOCAL dec 2006