This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine...

Monday, July 19, 2010

First Poem in My New Home: Peonies, Mary Oliver

I raptly held Mary Oliver's New and Selected Poems Vol. One Friday morning at the book store. The few poems I attempted to sop up were so good that I knew right away this was to be my first poet here.  It made immediate sense: a naturalist, a sensualist in my new, natural, sensual home.  This feels like a mile stone of some kind...though it feels like the markers on my progress here, now, come more rapidly than every mile.  While I await more poems from this book to permeate my consciousness, I have a perfect summer poem for you.

This morning the green fists of the peonies are getting ready
to break my heart
as the sun rises,
as the sun strokes them with his old, buttery fingers

and they open ---
pools of lace,
white and pink ---
and all day the black ants climb over them,

boring their deep and mysterious holes
into the curls,
craving the sweet sap,
taking it away

to their dark, underground cities ---
and all day
under the shifty wind,
as in a dance to the great wedding,

the flowers bend their bright bodies,
and tip their fragrance to the air,
and rise,
their red stems holding

all that dampness and recklessness
gladly and lightly,
and there it is again ---
beauty the brave, the exemplary,

blazing open.
Do you love this world?
Do you cherish your humble and silky life?
Do you adore the green grass, with its terror beneath?

Do you also hurry, half-dressed and barefoot, into the garden,
and softly,
and exclaiming of their dearness,
fill your arms with the white and pink flowers,

with their honeyed heaviness, their lush trembling,
their eagerness
to be wild and perfect for a moment, before they are
nothing, forever?

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