Literally thin-skinned, I suppose, my face
catches the wind off the snow-line and flushes
with a flush that will never wholly settle. Well:
that was a metropolitan vanity,
wanting to look young for ever, to pass.
I was never a pre-Raphaelite beauty
nor anything but pretty enough to satisfy
men who need to be seen with passable women.
But now that I am in love with a place
which doesn’t care how I look, or if I’m happy,
happy is how I look, and that’s all.
My hair will grow grey in any case,
my nails chip and flake, my waist thicken,
and the years work all their usual changes.
If my face is to be weather-beaten as well
that’s little enough lost, a fair bargain
for a year among the lakes and fells, when simply
to look out of my window at the high pass
makes me indifferent to mirrors and to what
my soul may wear over its new complexion.
The butterfly’s loping flight carries it through the country of the leaves delicately, and well enough to get it where it wants to go, wherever that is, stopping here and there to fuzzle the damp throats of flowers and the black mud; up and down it swings, frenzied and aimless; and sometimes for long delicious moments it is perfectly lazy, riding motionless in the breeze on the soft stalk of some ordinary flower.
The god of dirt came up to me many times and said so many wise and delectable things, I lay on the grass listening to his dog voice, crow voice, frog voice; now, he said, and now, and never once mentioned forever,
which has nevertheless always been, like a sharp iron hoof, at the center of my mind.
One or two things are all you need to travel over the blue pond, over the deep roughage of the trees and through the stiff flowers of lightning—some deep memory of pleasure, some cutting knowledge of pain.
But to lift the hoof! For that you need an idea.
For years and years I struggled just to love my life. And then the butterfly rose, weightless, in the wind. “Don’t love your life too much,” it said, and vanished into the world.
🎂Happy Birthday Mary Oliver (September 10, 1935 -)🎂
Had my soul tottered off to sleep taking my potency with it? Had they both retired before I could leaving me a classroom somnambulist? Why else should I at sixty-one feel myself shriveling into fadeout?
Then on a cold seminar Monday in walked an unannounced redeemer disguised as a taciturn student Brisk and resolute in scruffy mufti he set down his backpack shook his hair and offered me unequivocal devotion
He dismissed my rebuffs and ultimatums He scoffed at suggestions of disaster He insisted he had been given authority to provide my future happiness Was it possible he had been sent from some utopian headquarters? I went to his flat to find out
He had two red dogs a yellow cat a girl roommate an ex boyfriend and a bedroom ceiling covered with blue fluorescent stars But he was ready to renounce anything that would not accommodate me
He said I held the key to his existence He said he knew when he first saw me that I was the reason for his birth He claimed that important deities had opened his head three times to place my star in his brow
This is preposterous I said I have a wife in the suburbs I have mortgages children in-laws and a position in the community
I thoroughly sympathize said He Why else have I come to your rescue? These exchanges gave me diarrhea I tried leaving town on business but I kept remembering the warmth that flowed through his healing fingers We met for lunch at Hamburger Mary’s and borrowed a bedroom for the afternoon.
He brought a bouquet of red roses and a ruby-fat jug of red wine He hung affection around my neck and massaged the soles of my feet He offered to arrange instant honeymoons and guarantee the connecting flights Are you mad? I said You are half my age Are you frightened of your fate? said He
At Beck’s Motel on the 7th April we went to bed for three days disheveled the king size sheets never changed the Do Not Disturb ate only the fruits of discovery drank semen and laughter and sweat
He seasoned my mouth sweetened my neck coddled my nipple nuzzled my belly groomed my groin buffed my buttock garnished my pubes renovated my phallus remodeled my torso until I cried out until I cried I am Yes I am your Yes I am I am your Yes Yes Yes
He took a studio of his own on the windward slope of Potrero where I spent after school hours uprooting my ingrown niceties and planting fresh beds of bliss His sheets were grassy green
In his long bathtub he sat me opposite him and scrubbed away my guilt With a breakfast of sunbursts he woke the sleeping princess in my castle of armor
Waving blueprints of daring for twin heroes he roused my rusty knighthood To the choked minstrel aching my throat he proffered concerts of praise
Off the tip of his tongue I took each tasty love word and swallowed it whole for my own Are you my Book of Miracles? I said Are you my Bodhisattva? said He
Ablaze in the thrust of desire we scathed each other with verve burned up our fears of forever streamed ourselves deep in surrender till I lay drenched under scorch and joy cried out through my crown
Wondrous Wondrous the merge Wondrous the merge of soulmates the surprises of recognition Wondrous the flowerings of renewal Wondrous the wings of the air clapping their happy approval
I severed my respectabilities and bought a yellow mobile home in an unlikely neighborhood He moved in his toaster his camera and his eagerness to become my courier seed-carrier and consort
Above all he brought the flying carpet that upholsters his boundless embrace Year after year he takes me soaring out to the ecstasies of the cosmos that await all beings in love
By the time I was six months old, she knew something was wrong with me. I got looks on my face she had not seen on any child in the family, or the extended family, or the neighborhood. My mother took me in to the pediatrician with the kind hands, a doctor with a name like a suit size for a wheel: Hub Long. My mom did not tell him what she thought in truth, that I was Possessed. It was just these strange looks on my face— he held me, and conversed with me chatting as one does with a baby, and my mother said, She’s doing it now! Look! She’s doing it now! and the doctor said, What your daughter has is called a sense of humor. Ohhh, she said, and took me back to the house where that sense would be tested and found to be incurable.
I know, you never intended to be in this world. But you’re in it all the same. So why not get started immediately. I mean, belonging to it. There is so much to admire, to weep over. And to write music or poems about. Bless the feet that take you to and fro. Bless the eyes and the listening ears. Bless the tongue, the marvel of taste. Bless touching.
You could live a hundred years, it’s happened. Or not. I am speaking from the fortunate platform of many years, none of which, I think, I ever wasted. Do you need a prod? Do you need a little darkness to get you going? Let me be as urgent as a knife, then, and remind you of Keats, so single of purpose and thinking, for a while, he had a lifetime.
In most books, the I, or first person, is omitted; in this it will be retained;... We commonly do not remember that it is, after all, always the first person that is speaking. I should not talk so much about myself if there were anybody else whom I knew as well. Unfortunately, I am confined to this theme by the narrowness of my experience. — Henry David Thoreau