A Poem For Those Who Need It

January 26, 2018

 

 

I had a different blog post planned for this week, but it is already Friday and I haven't taken the time to update. I will tuck it in the back pocket of my mind and save it for another time, hoping it doesn't slip through one of the many holes I need to patch up.

 

This week, some people I love are hurting. People close to me, people once close to me, or mere acquiantances. I had a hard conversation today with someone I care about deeply, and how our thoughts and dreams are still walking with someone who is no longer with us. I don't want this to be a sad post, because it is Friday (and I have a Thin Mint donut - who would have thought such a beautiful thing could exist?!), but I thought I would simply share a poem that has helped get me through some hard times.

 

I am sure I have mentioned her before, but Mary Oliver is a Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winning poet from Maple Heights, Ohio. If you happened to go to a liberal arts school somewhere in Ohio, and studied anything art-related, you probably had Mary Oliver coming out your ears.

 

While I was getting my degree and reading countless Mary Oliver poems, I didn't appreciate her as much as I do now. With a little more life experience - happiness, forgiveness, and pain - her pieces have grounded me and taken on a new meaning. For anyone who needs it, here is a poem:

 

"In Blackwater Woods" by Mary Oliver:

 

Look, the trees
are turning
their own bodies
into pillars

 

of light,
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
and fulfillment,

 

the long tapers
of cattails
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders

 

of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is

 

nameless now.
Every year
everything
I have ever learned

 

in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side

 

is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world

 

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

 

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.

 

“In Blackwater Woods” by Mary Oliver, from American Primitive. © Back Bay Books, 1983.

 

I have repeated the last sentence so many times. It has made me angry. I have felt sorrowful, confused. Then also at peace and comforted. But it ultimately shows me that it is okay to be human. To hurt. To not know how to let something go at first. To continue learning how to live in this world.

 

Take care of yourselves and love fiercely, my friends. Sending hugs and understanding your way.

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