Friday, January 30, 2009

Drat, I'm having to cheat

I had promised myself a post a month. I have not written anything worth posting in the time since the last post. I have scribbled but not anything good (readers might be surprised that there is any filtering going on at all... but I assure you I am filtering at least some). So to get something in to the Poyetry blog in January, I am reduced to adding somebody else's poetry.

When I was introduced to Mary Oliver's poetry, I was amazed. I had never heard of her. She is a modern poet, still alive and writing on Cape Cod. Here is a poem that I love, and that meant a great deal to me when my daughter was very ill in the I.C.U. at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston, Egrets, originally I believe, in Mary Oliver's book, New and Selected Poems (1992).

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.


  • I am enormously frustrated by my inability to format on Blogger to space poems from the left margin. This poem, like some of my own, is supposed to be staggered across the page. I am sorry, Mary Oliver! Thank you for a very beautiful poem that consoled me and my daughter as we stepped over a very dark thing, indeed!

    By Blogger Betsy McKenzie, at 6:09 PM, January 30, 2009  

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