'When I am Among the Trees' by Mary Oliver
My most favorite poet, Mary Oliver, passed away last week.
Her work has always guided me, comforted me,
and put into words such a strong sense of belonging in this weird world.
In her passing, that seems more true than ever.
Especially as a sometimes lonesome heart wandering the woods.
Especially as a fellow creative, finding voice and reason.
For certain, when it comes to finding my own words.
I would surmise that her poetry has saved me from myself. More than once.
I was introduced to her work as a young woman,
19 years old and very very lost.
I had just come from a life-changing experience
in the Sea of Cortez, on a deserted island.
Her poem, 'Wild Geese',
I am certain is the only reason I stayed whole after that.
"You do not have to be good" are the first few words.
I'm fairly convinced she saved my life with just that line.
Her essays too,
especially her collection of stories in 'Upstream'
published in 2016
has a passage relating to creative comforts,
and the turmoil of being a creative brain.
One of my favorite passages is about a woman who can't seem to stay focused,
worried about the 'beans in the pot' and a household 'out of mustard'.
She explains in 'Of Power and Time' the creative muse and her haphazard ways...
"Of this there can be no question - creative work requires a loyalty as complete as the loyalty of water to the force of gravity. A person trudging through the winderness of creation who does not know this - who does not swallow this - is lost."
I leave you one of my many favorite poems,
certainly apropos this season.
Rest in peace, Mary Oliver.
Like balm to everything that ever hurt,
your words will always carry me,
I'll be listing some trees,
hammered and sawn from sterling sheet,
this next week.
I literally cannot stop with the tree silhouettes!
Damn the mustard!