the lacquered onion.
Beets, borage, tomatoes.
I came in and I put everything
on the counter: chives, parsley, dill,
the squash like a pale moon,
peas in their silky shoes, the dazzling
-Mary Oliver, “New and Selected Poems”
New and Selected Poems is one of my favorite poetry books and of course, I love Mary Oliver’s work. “Puckered sleeve”, “like a pale moon” and “in their silky shoes” are all underlined in the book.
Was there a word or phrase you particularly liked?
in fall fields,
in rumpy bunches,
saffron and orange and pale gold,
in little towers,
soft as mash,
sneeze-bringers and seed-bearers,
full of bees sand yellow beads and perfect flowerlets
and orange butterflies.
I don’t suppose
much notice comes of it, except for honey,
and how it heartens the heart with its
I don’t suppose anything loves it, except, perhaps,
the rocky voids
filled by its dumb dazzle.
I was just passing by, when the wind flared
and the blossoms rustled,
and the glittering pandemonium
leaned on me.
I was just minding my own business
when I found myself on their straw hillsides,
citron and butter-colored,
and was happy, and why not?
Are not the difficult labors of our lives
full of dark hours?
And what has consciousness come to anyway, so far,
that is better than these light-filled bodies?
on their airy backbones
they toss in the wind,
they bend as though it was natural and godly to bend,
they rise in a stiff sweetness,
in the pure peace of giving
one’s gold away.
What’s your favorite line?
DAY 3: BEAUTY
Look for wonder through a camera lens throughout the day. Carry a camera or your camera-equipped cell phone to snap photos of God’s beauty, grace, love, peace, and joy all around you. Share these beautiful moments of wonder with others.
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,
their red stems holding
all that dampness and recklessness
gladly and lightly,
and there it is again–
beauty the brave, the exemplary,
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 exclaiming of their dearness,
fill your arms with the white and pink flowers,
with their honeyed heaviness, their lush trembling,
to be wild and perfect for a moment, before they are
-“Peonies” from Mary Oliver, New and Selected Poems (Beacon Press).
What’s your favorite line or stanza?
On this final Friday of National Poetry Month, I’d like to share one of my absolute favorite books on the art of writing poetry. Perhaps the page tabs peeking out from the top give that away. You should see the pages!
From the back cover:
Poet Sage Cohen invites you to slow down to the rhythms of your creative process and savor poetry by:
- Offering explorations of the poetic life and craft
- Inspiring a feeling of play instead of laborious study
- Weaving together lessons in content, form, and process to provide a fun and engaging experience
- Inviting you to add poetry to your creative repertoire
If forced to choose two books on this poetic journey, it would be Writing the Life Poetic and Mary Oliver’s A Poetry Handbook.
This is a book to savor, to mark-up, and to soak up.
“Poetry is just the evidence of life.
If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.”
In honor of National Poetry Month, a favorite poem by a favorite poet:
Last Night the Rain Spoke to Me
by Mary Oliver
spoke to me
to come falling
out of the brisk cloud,
to be happy again
in a new way
on the earth!
That’s what it said
as it dropped,
smelling of iron,
like a dream of the ocean
into the branches
and the grass below.
Then it was over.
The sky cleared.
I was standing
under a tree.
The tree was a tree
with happy leaves,
and I was myself,
and there were stars in the sky
that were also themselves
at the moment
at which moment
my right hand
was holding my left hand
which was holding the tree
which was filled with stars
and the soft rain—
the long and wondrous journeys
still to be ours.