January 17th, 2019

Mary Oliver died today.

I learned about this in the morning. I’m home sick from work and I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind all day. I have found comfort in so much of her work while struggling with heartbreak and grief.

I just copied “The Summer Day” into a notebook. Everyone quotes the last two lines: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do/with your one wild and precious life?” which, when taken out of context, seems to be an uncomplicated call to action. Oliver tells us, in the same poem: “I do know […] how to be idle and blessed” and challenges the reader, instead: “Tell me, what else should I have done?”

And the answer is nothing. How lucky we were to have shared the planet with this woman, who followed her own instructions on how to live life to a T: “Pay attention./Be astonished./Tell about it.”

Rest in peace.

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One Response to “Pay attention./Be astonished./Tell about it.”

Cat Says:

“Mysteries, Yes”

Truly, we live with mysteries too marvelous
to be understood.

How grass can be nourishing in the
mouths of the lambs.
How rivers and stones are forever
in allegiance with gravity
while we ourselves dream of rising.
How two hands touch and the bonds will
never be broken.
How people come, from delight or the
scars of damage,
to the comfort of a poem.

Let me keep my distance, always, from those
who think they have the answers.

Let me keep company always with those who say
“Look!” and laugh in astonishment,
and bow their heads.