Sunday, January 21, 2018

Dear Mary Oliver......

This is written for Brendan's prompt at Real write a response to a beloved poem, a letter of applause. I chose Mary Oliver's 53 page "The Leaf and the Cloud", a poem that was an amazement to me when I happened upon it. The italicized words are Mary Oliver's.

Dear Mary Oliver,

I read you to him
as he drove us up-Island.
He listened, he smiled.
He was a hello, and so soon  a goodbye.
When I got home, I read some more,
pausing when you wrote, of your parents:
"May they sleep well. May they soften."
Life is a long list of letting go's.

You wrote:
"A lifetime isn't long enough
for the beauties of this world."
All those years spent earning a living,
instead of joyously living a life.
"And I am thinking: maybe just
looking and listening is the real work."

I am a poet, reading a Master, and you tell me:
"....the poem....wants to open itself
like the little door of a temple."
You say: "It may be the rock in the field
is also a song"    and I know this,
for I have heard it, singing songs
of centuries ago.
You say: "Maybe the world, without us,
is the real poem."

I was a woman of sixty, when I read:
"I am a woman of sixty, of no special courage",
and my last love had been and gone.
I and my black wolf were in love with the wild
and it - and we - were enough.

I read your book to the living,
and I read your book
to the dying woman in a coma,
to whom I wanted to give a gift.
I felt the energy in the room change,
as the gift was received,
and walked outside into a rainbow.
And all of it -
the dying woman, your words,
the sky, my heart -
was enough and more than enough.

You said:
"Remember me......I am the one who told you
that the grass is also alive,
and listening."

I close the book in gratitude
for the words that help me
better love this world.


  1. I love this. It gave me a chill. I love that you read it to a dying woman and the line about the poem being a door to a temple. So much wisdom.

  2. This is just awesome Sherry. I file it under the category 'Wish I Had Written This'

    much love...

  3. This is such wonderful homage to Oliver & shows how we carry this torch, this rapture of saying. Bringing her words into your own becomes a mirroring, but it also says how poetry continues through generations. Such an article of faith. Amen!

  4. My goodness this is good! Your poem gave me goosebumps, Sherry!💞

  5. OwOOOOOOOOO! Wow! My new favorite. A poem I wish I had written on a poem I wish I had heard in your voice! Record both?

  6. Oh, this is so beautiful. There are poets and poems that change us, open us to the wonder earth has for us. I will always be grateful to them. You my dear friend are one of them.

  7. Oh, I love this, Sherry I agree with Susan!
    I love the way you address and converse with Oliver and the lines:
    'He was a hello, and so soon a goodbye';
    'Life is a long list of letting go's'
    'I close the book in gratitude
    for the words that help me
    better love this world'.

  8. Wow! How absolutely splendid and moving this is.

  9. This poem brings real tears to my eyes, for the beauty of your words and Mary Oliver's side by side. Nothing can better show the impact of poetry on the individual than this.


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