Thursday, February 14, 2008

Mary Oliver

Mary Oliver is coming to Chicago April 2nd! Her New and Selected book was the first book of poetry I ever bought. Her "tour" is selling out wherever she goes. In Seattle tickets for her reading went for 100 bucks on Craigslist. Her book American Primitive is still one of my favorite books of all time. I love the last stepped-stanza of this poem.(edit..I can't seem to get the formatting right on this poem. Each four lines are supposed to be "stepped" which I think helps pace the poem quite well. With the correct formatting you can feel the struggle and journey.)


Where the path closed
down and over,
through the scumbled leaves, fallen branches,
through the knotted catbrier,
I kept going. Finally
I could not
save my arms
from thorns; soon
the mosquitoes
smelled me, hot
and wounded, and came
wheeling and whining.
And that's how I came
to the edge of the pond:
black and empty
except for a spindle
of bleached reeds
at the far shore
which, as I looked,
wrinkled suddenly
into three egrets --
a shower
of white fire!
Even half-asleep they had
such faith in the world
that had made them - - -
tilting through the water,
unruffled, sure,
by the laws
of their faith not logic,
they opened their wings
softly and stepped
over every dark thing.

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