Saturday, March 7, 2020

To Better Love This World

The Dog of Joy - Leaping for a Treat!

Dear Mary Oliver,
I read your poem to him
as he drove us up-Island.
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, telling tales
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 shift,
and knew the gift had been received.
I 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 know this. And I know that
Mother Earth hums a love song
to all her children, furry and not.

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

for Brendan at earthweal, where he inspires us with Mary Oliver's words today. I wrote this in 2018. The quoted lines are from Mary Oliver's wonderful The Leaf and the Cloud, a book-length poem about life and death.


  1. "I walked outside into a rainbow." Really grabbed me. What a beautiful poem with many stunning lines. I can see you with your black wolf walking in the wild.

  2. The rainbow was a gift and more than enough. It's a sign of love. I remember reading to my grandmother in her final days. I could see movement beyond the curtain of her eyes. She was listening.

  3. Lovely heartfelt piece. It's such a tribute to a poet - but also talks about what poetry can do (and how useful it is).

  4. We should do a prompt sometimes on poetic companions -- those we walk with reading their poems & joining their conversation How many have traveled with Mary Oliver, I wonder. This is a joyous poem about true intimacies (great leap for a treat there!) and resonate forever. You know I share the joy of Mary Oliver. Well done! - Brendan

  5. Beautiful poem ,Sherry ...I love the way you have weaved the personal and Mary Oliver's words together like a tapestry...yes, well done! JIM

  6. I love the words of Mary Oliver that you've chosen. She is an inspiration to me too and she's helped me love this world even more. Lovely writing Sherry.


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