Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

01 January 2008

Another Good One from Mary Oliver

I finished Why I Wake Early. Books of poetry seem to take so little time to read, even when I read very slowly. It is too bad. Anyway, here is another Mary Oliver poem for the new year. This one is my favorite from this collection. It's called "One":
The mosquito is so small
it takes almost nothing to ruin it.
Each leaf, the same.
And the black ant, hurrying.
So many lives, so many fortunes!
Every morning, I walk softly and with forward glances
down to the ponds and through the pinewoods.
Mushrooms, even, have but a brief hour
before the slug creeps to the feast,
before the pine needles hustle down
under the bundles of harsh, beneficent rain.

How many, how many, how many
make up a world!
And then I think of that old idea: the singular and the eternal.
One cup, in which everything is swirled
back to the color of the sea and the sky.
Imagine it!

A shining cup, surely!
In the moment in which there is no wind
over your shoulder,
you stare down into it,
and there you are,
your own darling face, your own eyes.
And then the wind, not thinking of you, just passes by,

touching the ant, the mosquito, the leaf,
and you know what else!
How blue is the sea, how blue is the sky,
how blue and tiny and redeemable everything is, even you,
even your eyes, even your imagination.