It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway
into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.
I'm not a poetry reader, isn't that a shame? That's a bit like saying “I don't listen to music”, which would be unthinkable. So I'm setting out, this summer, to remedy that situation, and when Mary Oliver crossed my facebook page – the way so many poets, authors, and artists do, just in the random act of a friend hitting the “share” button – I decided the time is now. I've ordered her “A Thousand Mornings” and may even give it precedence over my annual reading of “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
Summer has bruised me, this year, with too many stresses, ill tempers, unfinished projects and unanticipated bills. The drawn-out decline and final, horrid death of my beloved dog, Boo. Heat that clings like a viscid second skin. Poison ivy on my shins.
I've created a quiet spot in the woods near my house – arranged two sky-blue Adirondack chairs around the roots of a giant maple, hung wind chimes and bird feeders, strung fairy lights where the overhead branches dip down almost to the ground. The effect is something like a child's secret hideaway, walls and ceiling of jeweled green, dirt floor soft and cool. In the evening, when the sky is plum-colored and the bats cutting capers above the house roof, I can feel my soul unwind. I can almost believe in magic.
Ah Lord, life would be better, wouldn't it, if we could all subscribe to that simple ideology?
Magic. The stuff of Peter Pan and Hocus Pocus, Puff and Samantha Stevens. An herb for bad tempers, an incense for love, a kiss for the frog . . . Poof! Life is better! Isn't this what we all need?
Alas, we're left to create our own. Mere mortals, we make do with such as we can – chocolate, music, twinkle lights, love. And words. Oh yes, words. Such power, such potential, such . . . magic. Say a prayer, cast a spell, whisper a blessing, spit a curse. Maybe when your creative gears are stalled, your temper frayed, your big toe stubbed, you should catch your breath in a quiet spot and read a verse. Here, I'll leave you this one:
Sometimes I spend all day trying to count the leaves on a single tree. To do this I have to climb branch by branch and write down the numbers in a little book. So I suppose, from their point of view, it’s reasonable that my friends say: what foolishness! She’s got her head in the clouds again.
But it’s not. Of course I have to give up, but by then I’m half crazy with the wonder of it — the abundance of the leaves, the quietness of the branches, the hopelessness of my effort. And I am in that delicious and important place, roaring with laughter, full of earth-praise.” - Mary Oliver
Yup, pure magic. Happy reading!
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