When Your Own Words Just Won’t Do: Day 3

When Your Own Words Just Won’t Do: Day 3 June 12, 2010

Sharing a poem by Mary Oliver today.  She is one of my favorite poets, and lately I have been starting my days sitting on the porch reading her poems.  She writes about nature much more deeply than I ever could, but every time I read her poems I am surprised at the resonance I feel to her metaphors.  Sometimes she even makes me think about moments in which I have been moved by nature.

This particular poem stuck out to me this week.  It made me remember living in Prague, where every spring the fields around our house would be filled with bright orange poppies.  Sometimes I would pull the car over and get out just to watch them sway in the fields and lean toward the sun.  Their graceful motion seemed always to stand in sharp contrast to the radically bright color of their blooms.

Here, Oliver does with her words what I could never do with mine–she takes the metaphor of the poppies and makes it universal, touching a part of human living we all share.  Today, enjoy her words:

Poppies by Mary Oliver

The poppies send up their

orange flares; swaying

in the wind, their congregations

are a levitation

of bright dust, of thin

and lacy leaves.

There isn’t a place

in this world that doesn’t

sooner or later drown

in the indigos of darkness,

but now, for a while,

the roughage

shines like a miracle

as it floats above everything

with its yellow hair.

Of course nothing stops the cold,

black, curved blade

from hooking forward—

of course

loss is the great lesson.

But I also say this: that light

is an invitation

to happiness,

and that happiness,

when it’s done right,

is a kind of holiness,

palpable and redemptive.

Inside the bright fields,

touched by their rough and spongy gold,

I am washed and washed

in the river

of earthly delight—

and what are you going to do—

what can you do

about it—

deep, blue night?

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