2 schools loop (cooper and howe)
Windy this afternoon! Everything green, budding. Spring-like. Ran around Cooper School then down to Edmund. Up to 47th and over to Howe. A soccer team was practicing on the field. Didn’t stare to see if they were wearing masks. I wonder how youth sports is doing these days in Minnesota; the uptick in cases with the UK variant started in some suburban youth sports games. Anything else I remember from the run? Encountered some walkers. Did I see any other runners? I can’t remember. Ran by a neighbor’s fruit trees or vines on 32nd–I can’t remember what they are, I just remember that last year they had a sign encouraging you to take all the fruit you’d like. Apples? Anyway, the trees/vines right by their fence were blooming pale pink flowers. Beautiful.
I didn’t run yesterday because we drove up to Duluth and got our first doses of the Pfizer vaccine–well, me, FWA, and STA got our first doses, RJP is a year too young. Such a bummer for her. Anyway, I still haven’t processed it all, how remarkable and amazing and relieving it is to be getting this vaccine and to be fully vaccinated before Mother’s Day! Wow.
Even though I didn’t run, I still read some Mary Oliver. I’m finding it difficult to stick with just one poem. I like reading several and letting the repetition of her words about attention wash over me and soak in slowly. Yesterday and today, I read through her collection, Swan, and noticed, among other things, that she did a lot of: 1. inviting the reader (you) to be curious, to enter the field, to notice things, 2. admonishing the reader for not noticing and calling it a life, and 3. commanding the reader to notice things, to leave the desk and enter the world. I have started making a list and adding lines from her poems to each of these categories. So far, my list includes the poems in Swan and a few others that I found in her compilation, Devotions.
- Inside the river there is an unfinishable story/and you are somewhere in it/and it will never end until all ends (What Can I Say/Swan)
- How many kinds of love/might there be in the world,/and how many formations might they make/and who am I ever/to imagine I could know/such a marvelous business? (On the Beaach/Swan)
- Did you see it, drifting, all night in the black river?/Did you see it in the morning, rising into the silvery air?/And did you feel it, in your heart, how it pertained to everything?/And have you too finally figured out what beauty is for?/And have you changed your life? (Swan/Swan)
- With what words can I convince you of the/casualness with which the white swans fly? Do you give a thought now and again to the/essential sparrow, the necessary toad? Have you ever seen a squirrel swim? Is it not incredible, than in the acorn something/has hidden an entire tree? (More Evidence/Swan)
- Have you ever tried to enter the long black branches/of other lives? (Have you ever tried to enter/ West Wind)
- It is a negligence of the mind/not to notice how at dusk/heron comes to the pond (How Heron Comes/Swan)
- We are all good people/except for when we are not (Four Sonnets/Swan)
- Who can open the door who does not reach for the latch?
- Listen, are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?
- For how long will you continue to listen to those dark shouters,/caution and prudence?/Fall in! Fall in! (Have you ever tried to enter the long black branches/West Wind)
- If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy,/don’t hesitate. Give in to it. (Don’t Hesitate/Swan)
- Sing, if you can sing, and if not still be/musical inside yourself (More Evidence/Swan)
- Said the river: imagine everything you can imagine, then/keep going (At the River Clarion/Evidence)
- Quickly, then, get up, put on your coat, leave your desk! (Have you ever tried to enter the long black branches/ West Wind)
In addition to categorizing her lines, here are a few other things I noticed/liked/want to remember:
She likes the word “meanwhile,” which I first encountered and enjoyed in her wonderful poem, “Wild Geese”: “Meanwhile, the world goes on./ Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain…/Meanwhile, the wild geese…” I like this idea of meanwhile as another word for beside/s, and to mean: there are other things beside you happening in the world AND you are not alone in your suffering/sorrow/joy AND life/the world contains more than we can imagine or reconcile, all happening at the same time. I like thinking about meanwhile as a way to connect different stories/lives/creatures without collapsing them into each other as one story or way of living/being–if that makes sense?
Okay, I confess to wanting to make a literature of praise.4 Sonnets/ Swan
I like this idea of a literature of praise. In Long Life she talks about her words as little alleluias on the page. Can we think of this as spiritual, as about admiring and finding joy in things, without linking it to God or organized religion? Yes, I think.
I want to step out into some/fresh morning and look around and hear myself/crying out: “The house of money is falling! The house of money is falling! The weeds are rising! The weeds are rising!”Evidence/ Evidence
That sounds like fun and something I can’t imagine myself ever having the nerve to do. But I think it quite a lot when I’m out near the gorge and witness the sumac vines wrapping themselves around the fenceposts.
One more thing: Here’s a Mary Oliver poem that I’ve been rereading a lot over the past few days:
HAVE YOU EVER TRIED TO ENTER THE LONG BLACK BRANCHES/ Mary Oliver
Have you ever tried to enter the long black branches of other lives —
tried to imagine what the crisp fringes, full of honey, hanging
from the branches of the young locust trees, in early morning, feel like?
Do you think this world was only an entertainment for you?
Never to enter the sea and notice how the water divides
with perfect courtesy, to let you in!
Never to lie down on the grass, as though you were the grass!
Never to leap to the air as you open your wings over the dark acorn of your heart!
No wonder we hear, in your mournful voice, the complaint
that something is missing from your life!
Who can open the door who does not reach for the latch?
Who can travel the miles who does not put one foot
in front of the other, all attentive to what presents itself
Who will behold the inner chamber who has not observed
with admiration, even with rapture, the outer stone?
Well, there is time left —
fields everywhere invite you into them.
And who will care, who will chide you if you wander away
from wherever you are, to look for your soul?
Quickly, then, get up, put on your coat, leave your desk!
To put one’s foot into the door of the grass, which is
the mystery, which is death as well as life, and
not be afraid!
To set one’s foot in the door of death, and be overcome
To sit down in front of the weeds, and imagine
god the ten-fingered, sailing out of his house of straw,
nodding this way and that way, to the flowers of the
to the song falling out of the mockingbird’s pink mouth,
to the tippets of the honeysuckle, that have opened
in the night
To sit down, like a weed among weeds, and rustle in the wind!
Listen, are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?
While the soul, after all, is only a window,
and the opening of the window no more difficult
than the wakening from a little sleep.
Only last week I went out among the thorns and said
to the wild roses:
deny me not,
but suffer my devotion.
Then, all afternoon, I sat among them. Maybe
I even heard a curl or two of music, damp and rouge red,
hurrying from their stubby buds, from their delicate watery bodies.
For how long will you continue to listen to those dark shouters,
caution and prudence?
Fall in! Fall in!
A woman standing in the weeds.
A small boat flounders in the deep waves, and what’s coming next
is coming with its own heave and grace.
Meanwhile, once in a while, I have chanced, among the quick things,
upon the immutable.
What more could one ask?
And I would touch the faces of the daisies,
and I would bow down
to think about it.
That was then, which hasn’t ended yet.
Now the sun begins to swing down. Under the peach-light,
I cross the fields and the dunes, I follow the ocean’s edge.
I climb, I backtrack.
I ramble my way home.