I have written before how I long to be like Mary Oliver. Oh, I have no desire to be a woman nor do I dream of possessing any of her physical attributes or accumulations. No, my longing is to have such an amazingly discerning eye, a gifted descriptive mind, and a vocabulary that allows for poetic expression without the groping that typifies my efforts in this arena. My desire is that words may flow from me, documenting observations which I have not even learned how to see, even in my most creative moments.
I suppose it is O.K. that I will never be a poet like Mary Oliver. I do not want to fight against “what is,” but I do want to read her book on creating poetry and I want to play with everything she can teach me.
While I expect she will help me learn the structure, in which to share the thoughts I have to convey (the “how”) I am not sure there is any hope for the “what” I’ll say. Perhaps the how will suffice until the what can be developed through time and practice, effort and patience.
I used to think that Mary was merely gifted at seeing nature and describing it in a way that allowed me to feel the feather, hear the song, or taste the air she described, but such an idea falls way short of the magnitude of her talent. True, she can perform the magic of translating what she sees into words which move from a page directly into ones heart, but she can use this talent to convey any human perception she experiences, thereby allowing the blessed readers the opportunity to live vicariously through her five senses and her sense of wisdom and intuition as well. I admire the way she holds nothing back. Consider just the closing four verses from her poem Black Oaks, which I read in her book Blue Iris:
Today is a day like any other: twenty-four hours, a
little sunshine, a little rain
Listen, says ambition, nervously shifting her weight from
one boot to another – why don’t you get going?
For there I am in the mossy shadows, under the trees.
And to tell the truth I don’t want to let go of the wrists
of idleness, I don’t want to sell my life for money,
I don’t even want to come in out of the rain.
What a gift Mary Oliver’s poetry is to the world. I long to leave some type of legacy as my gift to humanity: not for self-aggrandizement, but for posterity, so that, if only in a small way, I can leave the planet a slightly better place than I found it. I wish I had recognized this desire when I was burning rubber in my twenties, killing brain cells which would be useful now, but alas there is no going back. At sixty it is not too late to find my voice and to leave a piece of me for a world that desperately needs beauty, Light, Love and hope.
This is my wish for this terrific Thursday. I would love to hear yours.