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On listening to Mary Oliver in the morning

Monday, November 30, 2015 by Marianne Elliott

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There was a small blue and grey backpack hanging in a tree on Hornsey Rd.

It’s zip hanging open, as though it had something to say.

I noticed it, perhaps, because I’d been listening to you this morning,

because you remind me to notice, to trust that noticing is worth my time and my attention.

There was a black cat curled in the shade at the top of the steps,

looking up at me as I passed by.

So close I thought it might be startled,

might make a sudden move off the path,

down the steps back, I presumed, to it’s home.

But it simply gazed back at me,

unafraid, unconcerned by my passing.

I imagined a different life this morning,

A life of waking early, standing at the backdoor with my notebook.

A life, as you put it, of catching flies with honey rather than vinegar.

If I wrote about the beauty of the world,

the cat lying in the shade,

the changing moods of my friend, Lyall Bay.

If I wrote about the beauty and courage of people making a life,

for themselves and their families, despite everything.

Would that be enough?

The problem, you said, is that your poems only work,

on people who are already open.

They don’t work on the heads of industry.

They don’t work on people who continue to destroy the planet,

to pollute your beloved rivers and ocean,

and exploit the lives of man, woman and beast,

in exchange for more wealth.

You are growing old.

Your wild places are disappearing.

You leave us your poems,

and this question.

What then should I do,

Mary Oliver,

with this one wild and precious life?


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5 Responses to "On listening to Mary Oliver in the morning"

  1. Art Rosch says:

    Love the poem, love the sentiment, love Mary Oliver. I thought to share with you (Zen as you are) the briefest of poems, thus:

    Dewdrops on spider webs;
    sit lightly with life.

  2. Leonie says:

    This really struck a chord with me Marianne. Such a loaded question isn’t it… “would that be enough?”

    I often wonder about ‘enough’. Enough for what? Or who? And who says what I am currently doing is NOT enough? Is my noticing enough? Is speaking about what is right and true for me enough? Are my small & quiet ways of trying to make the world a better place enough?

    I don’t know….

  3. Great Poem…keep up the good work of posting good stuffs.

  4. GlassesShop says:

    Beautiful photo, love your sharing

  5. Pundelina says:

    Beautiful writing, thank you.

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