Writing & Reading

Mary Oliver Praises and May Day Wishes

I feel safe with a Mary Oliver book in my hands. I feel held, understood, though the words in the slim rectangle claim, they are certain of nothing.

I feel whole—as though the slender book were a shard of my own soul returned to me at last. I feel safety and gratitude.  I feel assured and reassured that quietude and nature are true friends.

That words matter as much as I want them to, that they can find a home in a stranger’s heart, miles apart and years away. That they can fit so delicately on a tongue—perching, balancing, dancing. That they can bring forth laughter and sighs. That something so simple—plain text printed in black on a tender sheaf of white paper can bring to me a world that is both mine and another’s.

In case you couldn’t tell, I’ve been reading the poetry of Mary Oliver this week, specifically her book Blue Horses, published last year.  If you know her work, you also know she doesn’t need me singing her praises, but if you don’t, you might want to check some of it out.

On May 1st, when I was a child, my sister and I used to gather flowers from our mother’s gardens and give them to our friends and family members.  So, here are some May Day flowers for you—gorse from Sneem, Ireland.  2015-05-01 GorseAccording to Edward Bach, the vibrations of gorse help one to feel hope in the face of despair; to realize one’s soul potential, even in the face of difficulty.  This is particularly appropriate as many people are currently celebrating Beltane—a Celtic celebration of spring and new life.  So, I also wish you revitalization—in whatever form that you need it.


Louisiana, Nature & Spirituality

The Poetry of Water Birds

Canada goose and goslings

The goslings hatched yesterday.

Oh, how I have worried since I saw their mother sitting on her nest so close to our apartment complex’s drainage pond, that in the unforgiving torrents of southeastern Louisiana rain often rises up to swallow all the land it can find.  I have wanted to remonstrate with her gander, as he cruised around territorially, daring anyone to disturb her sanctuary, but seemingly unconcerned by the dangers of hungry water.  In the night, I have heard the waterfall pour down, and I have said a prayer for the little eggs under their mother’s belly.  “Let them be safe.  Let them not float away.”

They are floating now, little yellow fluff balls in a tidy line on the water, one parent in front, the other in back.  They have joined their fellow pond denizens: the few big black ducks—a chorus from a Greek play who greeted us in the early morning darkness when we first arrived here.  And the troop of male mallards—three of whom sometimes stand nonchalantly and, from my point of view, comically, on the cement wall surrounding their home.  Other times they scurry gracelessly through the complex searching for food.  Whoever said that ducks go quack?  These do not.  They mutter a low mat, mat, mat like so many absent-minded professors churning their great ideas in the open air, there being no more room left in their overstuffed minds.

Then there are the visitors: The great egrets, their beaks long, true, yellow spears, their impossibly white feathers waving in the wind like ceremonial robes.  They strut slowly and quietly through the shallows, waiting for the right moment to stab into the water and toss their prize to the back of their throats to make the long snaking journey to their stomachs.

The great blue heron does this, too, but he is more stately somehow.  Perhaps it is only his superior size, but no, there is something in his bearing that brings a certain otherworldliness to mind.  His feathers seem to change colors to suit a whim.  On a grey morning he may even become invisible, matching the air’s dusky complexion.  On a bright day, he may be streaked with blue and white and black.  Always alone, the heron is never lonely.  His pose is unhurried, the long beard of feathers at his neck giving him the air of an old man thinking of times long past and great mysteries only mystics can contemplate.

More infrequently we the see the snowy egret—a fisherman down to his great, yellow rubber boot feet.  And the lively, blue kingfisher—the lookout and the herald.  Perhaps he is even now dispersing the news of the goslings’ arrival with his twittering, kissy call.

I am grateful for these birds and for the everyday poetry they compose simply by being alive.

Thank you for reading. 🙂