Tag Archives: Mary Oliver

9/11 sunday


To continue my poet Mary Oliver* theme: which is my work which is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished….I forget how to do this simple task but Youngest- Grandson-not-quite-two reteaches me…..astonished each time he visits at the goldfish in the pond, wanting to feed them, wanting to smell the fish food over and over, never tiring of either, wanting to put leaf hats on the little fat stone buddha’s head, saying hat each time, waiting for the carpenter bees, saying bee loudly when we see one, wanting me to sing yet again, be my little baby bumble bee, calling mosquitoes bees and laughing like mad when I correct him and say, mosquito, mosquito…..it’s the same thing each and every time…..my simple treasures are a miracle to him, and I am reminded anew–as the significance of this anniversary day points out–what treasures I possess**…..

Another treasure: the garden muse allowed a prose/poem to burble up. It had been so long I’d forgotten I did this…..had an attack of inspiration. Here it is:  A small kamakasi hurtles toward me, wings fluttering in rapid beats. No rising sun on the side, this small missile is nonetheless intent, zooming toward the next feeder…..

Details: I saw my first hummingbird (I’m trying to lure them with feeders) on Tuesday and almost didn’t recognize what it was until it was a foot away. Two days later, I’m seating at an Archway Gallery reading, listening, and there the words are. I scribble them on the paper listing the readers.

So….what’s inspired you lately?

*Hit this to hear Mary Oliver read…..**Hit above on words treasures I possess to hear treasure……

my work

I’ve been spiffing up the notebook I present as part of the basics-of-the-novel class I teach for continuing studies at Rice. Certain words, advice, sayings leap off the page to peck at me as I hunch over the computer redoing…..such as these words by poet Mary Oliver. They’re all writing is about….they’re all life is about, actually…..

My work is loving the world.

Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird -equal seekers of sweetness.

Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.

Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?

Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me

keep my mind on what matters,

which is my work

which is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished…………..

heroine

Thinking about heroines….thinking about a lecture I heard Jean Bolen give at the Jung Center last year. Among the things she said was that a heroine’s journey often begins because she is cast on her own and didn’t expect it. Unchosen circumstances put her on an individualistic path. I was thinking about my path, about the very domestic life I thought I would have. And how I didn’t obtain it though some unwise choices. I tried to tame a tiger. I have a friend on a heroine’s journey right now; she’s adjusting to the death of a long-time partner. But it’s not only a partner’s death that puts on a woman on a path that contains only her. There’s divorce, illness, disease, the death of a child, the death of a dream. There’s some Mary Oliver line….to love what is mortal and let it go. It takes a heroine’s heart to do that. What makes a heroine? Do you know?

wild & precious life

well….a deep subject that…..I sit in my office. This will be the last day I do so. Tonight I’ll dismantle computer and printer and external drive, pack them away, set them back up mid-week in another spot. It’s very hard for me to leave this office. It’s messy. There’s art everywhere. There’s collage and too many stacks of things I mean to get to and cards from friends and photos of family and so many files to file. I feel safe in here, nested. The clutter comforts me, makes me think I might actually be authenic. I’ve had to really restrain myself not to just pack up everything in here and put it in place in Taos. What will I miss most? The wonderful prayer flags and Tao metal hand and cranes that hang down from the ceiling, my own personal mobile blessings.

There’s an exercise I often give my writing students. It’s about personal space. It’s about what surrounds one’s writing space. It’s about whether you have a writing space. Are you worth it is the essential question. We’re all worth it. It just takes some of us longer to get there.

What about your creativity space? Have you one? What does it look like?  If you don’t, why not? And wish me luck in Taos….wish me fortitude with my writing residency…….To quote Mary Oliver, who is resonating with me these days….Tell me, what is it you plan to do/with your one wild and precious life?

I feel almost a little too wild….as I leave all I know to go off and create.

getting ready

I leave soon. I leave Houston’s flat, coastal plain, the humidity that will open out for certain this week and make every breath heavy, make shirts and blouses soggy with perspiration. I leave a marvelous greening  that will be jungle by July if the summer has its usual rain. I leave routines: picking up grandchildren, going to exercise, sitting at my desk to work, lunching with friends, going to visit Mother. I leave friends who are like flowers in my life and circles of women that meet monthly or weekly to aid and comfort and listen to one another. I leave a husband who takes me for walks and makes me take my vitamins. And where do I go? West, to a writing residency in the town of Taos, which sits in a valley of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. I will be all by myself, in my casita. Near will be other writers, artists, and composers, but we are to respect each other’s solitude, the literature tells me. We are here in create.

I feel amazed that this hovers on my horizon, I who live at sea level and don’t have a grand horizon. What will I create in a solitude I’ve never known? What will I see in my one small life that normal distractions keep me from seeing? What thoughts will visit me? What dreams? What work will I do? I know something inside will be shifting, moving the chairs and tables. I’m reminded of lines of the poet Mary Oliver that I looked at tonight: And have you finally figured out what beauty is for?/And have you changed your life?

Have you? Will I?