Rest in Light, Mary Oliver
When Death Comes
When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse
to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox;
when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,
I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?
And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,
and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,
and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,
tending, as all music does, toward silence,
and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.
When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
When it’s over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.
I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.
If you have visited my blogs over the years, you will no doubt understand my deep abiding respect for Mary Oliver- the poet, the woman, the kindred spirit.
I am not a reader of much poetry, per se, but her profound appreciation for the natural world that I love so well and her keen sense of observation drew me like a magnet so many years ago. There was an instant knowing bond- something quite rare and quite sacred.
During my long and dark illness, a time when the world seemed to turn away in indifference, Mary was there. I own every one of her books, either in hard or digital form. Each one is such a treasure.
I cannot count the times I played her audio narration of Wild Geese. Over and over I listened to those words that struck me so very deeply. Words that gave me indescribable comfort and validity. Words that move me to my very core.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination ,calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting -over and over announcing your place in the family of things.
Later on, after a massive heart attack, her words encouraged me to not only survive, but live.
Truly, deeply and fully.
She taught me to say to my heart “RAVE ON.”
The way she saw and celebrated the beauty of the natural world through her poetry is such a powerful example of living mindfully. She was such a rich color in this tapestry of threads we call life.
Mary didn’t just visit this world.
She changed it.
Thank you Mary for all of your beautiful words, for sharing your one wild and precious life while encouraging us to think about our own. You were and will continue to be music to my soul.