by Cathy Baker
I LOVE poetry, Mary Oliver, and yes, owls.
So imagine my delight when all three loves were realized in one particular poem.
Whether you’re a lover of poetry or not, I encourage you to read Mary Oliver’s poem slowly. Simply find one line that you enjoy, one description that makes you smile.
Little Owl Who Lives in the Orchards
by Mary Oliver
His beak could open a bottle,
and his eyes—when he lifts their soft lids—
go on reading something
just beyond your shoulder—
or the Book of Revelation.
Never mind that he eats only
the black-smocked crickets,
and dragonflies if they happen
to be out late over the ponds, and of course
the occasional festal mouse.
Never mind that he is only a memo
from the offices of fear—
it’s not size but surge that tells us
when we’re in touch with something real,
and when I hear him in the orchard
down the little aluminum
ladder of his scream—
when I see his wings open, like two black ferns,
a flurry of palpitations
as cold as sleet
rackets across the marshlands
of my heart,
like a wild spring day.
Somewhere in the universe,
in the gallery of important things,
the babyish owl, ruffled and rakish,
sits on its pedestal.
Dear, dark dapple of plush!
A message, reads the label,
from the mysterious conglomerate:
Oblivion and Co.
The hooked head stares
from its blouse of dark, feathery lace.
It could be a valentine.
In tomorrow’s post, I’m sharing an opportunity to win a little something that might help you in making your own notes of observation for poetry, prose, and life.
But for now, I’d love to know the word or line that resonated with you most today!
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?
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?