Thursday, August 26, 2010

First of two

In many of Mary Oliver's books of poetry she has a couple poems that are written in six or seven parts, appropriately labeled simply 1. 2. 3.....
At first I was distracted trying to figure out what these parts had in common, why they were all, in her mind, reflections on the same idea. But when I stopped doing that and just enjoyed each one, their relationships often came to me or, if not, I just trusted that they meant something together to her and therefore to me.

Here's one:
"More Beautiful than the Honey Locust Tree are the Words of the Lord"

1.
In the household of God, I have stumbled in recitation, and in my mind I have wandered.
I have interrupted worship with discussion.
Once I extinguished the Gospel candle after all the others.

But never held the cup to my mouth lagging in gratitude.

2.
The Lord forgives many things,
so I have heard.

3.
The deer came into the field.
I saw her peaceful face and heard the shuffle of her breath.
She was sweetened by merriment and not afraid, but bold to say whose field she was crossing:
spoke the tap of her foot: "It is God's, and mine."

But only that she was born into the poem that God made, and called the world.

4.
And the goldfinch too
And the black pond I named my little sisters, since otherwise I had none.
And the muskrat, with his shy hands,
And the tiny life of the single pine needle, which nevertheless shines.

And the priest in her beautiful vestments, her hand over the chalice.

And clouds moving, over the valleys of Truro.