just to be alive
on this fresh morning
in this broken world."
MARY OLIVER, Red Bird
I woke in the wee hours last night to a pall of pandemic gloom in the air around me. I wasn't fretting or even thinking about it when I fell asleep, maybe I'd been dreaming about it, for the strictures loomed from the shadows when I woke. Struggling to get back to sleep, I finally gave up and came to my study where, sitting in the lamp's pool of cozy soft light, I felt an immediate lift in spirits. I wrote out a birthday card to a dear friend, selecting one of those gorgeous Papyrus cards I love, all floral pink and glittery—you'll see it further down.
Then I read lines from Mary Oliver's book of poetry Devotions and felt their lovely imagery soothe my mind. On these frightfully frigid days that dip near the -40°C/F mark with the wind chill, I've chosen not to go on my daily walks in the neighbourhood. Exposed skin freezes in minutes, so these past few days I've been madly pedaling indoors, not as much fun, but oh well! Thankfully, when I can't get out to embrace a bit of earthy nature, delving into Mary's poetry certainly helps. Her words almost make me feel like I'm right there with her, for her love and wonder of the physical world shimmers in every line. The book is my current go-to respite when I need a few minutes to escape from the craziness of our weirdly tilting world.
"Hello, sun in my face,
Hello, you who make the morning
and spread it over the fields
and into the faces of the tulips
and the nodding morning glories,
and into the windows of, even, the
miserable and the crotchety—"
MARY OLIVER, Why I Wake Early
These lines from Mary's poem offers a glad hint of the season to come, although my world looks a lot more like the wintry photo above. I giggled at the idea of the sun shining generously even on the miserable and the crotchety. Grace even for them, er, us (wink).
"I held my breath as we do sometimes to stop time
when something wonderful has touched us..."
MARY OLIVER, New and Selected Poems, Vol 2
"Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things."
MARY OLIVER, Wild Geese
"Love yourself. Then forget it.
Then, love the world."
MARY OLIVER, Evidence: Poems
"Maybe the desire to make something beautiful
is the piece of God that is inside each of us."
MARY OLIVER, Devotions
* * *
"I learned from Mary Oliver how attention is a kind of love, how shining your mind’s light on a thing — a grasshopper, a bird, a tree — is a way of showing gratitude. I learned that poems do not need to be “difficult” to be intelligent, that poems can be both inspirational and investigative, that poems can be tender without being soft. I learned from her to own my wonder and to stay open to uncertainty." Maggie Smith, The Washington Post, January 18, 2019
If I had not been awake in the night, chances are I would not have found those graceful beautiful lines by Mary Oliver, or this lovely thought about her by Maggie Smith in The Washington Post. And, there certainly would be no post for you either. So, even for sleepless nights, I am grateful. Stay warm. Stay safe.
* * *
With love, I'm wishing you beauty and heart's ease,
Photo Credits: All photos, except the birthday card photo
which is mine, came courtesy of Pixabay.com