This is written for Brendan's prompt at Real Toads.......to 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.
"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.
"Remember me......I am the one who told you
that the grass is also alive,
I close the book in gratitude
for the words that help me
better love this world.