It is with great sadness this morning that I say goodbye to one of my favorite poets, Mary Oliver. I heard the news of her passing just a moment ago, and I can’t believe her voice is now silent. We will miss you terribly, Mary, but your poems will live on in our hearts. Thank you for what you did with your one wild and precious life, and for all the beautiful poetry you shared with us.
I confess that I’m a worrier. I really have to keep reminding myself to just “let it go,” that worrying doesn’t get you anywhere! This poem, by Mary Oliver, is so perfect for those of us who waste precious energy in the worry loop!
I took her advice earlier this week (before the rains returned) and this was what greeted me when I took my old body and went out into the morning. It was so much better than worrying!
April flew by so quickly this year! We continued to have record-breaking rains here in the Pacific Northwest throughout the month, but the temperatures moderated and there were days when we could finally get out in the garden and start cleaning up after such a long winter. Hubby and I spent two days in Silverton, Oregon, enjoying the early Spring beauty of the Oregon Garden and a short, but beautiful visit to the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival.
My reading time slowed down but April was a good reading month anyway. I completed 8 books and a knitting project! My favorite book this month was the science fiction novella, Binti! It was so well written and enjoyable, and I loved spending some time out of this currently crazy world. I enjoyed listening to another audiobook in Craig Johnson‘s Walt Longmire mystery series. And I loved reading more poetry during this National Poetry Month! I also read and reviewed three books for The Classics Club, books chosen from my 50 books in 5 years list.
I always love April, and the beauty of the spring flowers and blossoms is wonderful after the darkness of our winters here. May will be a busy month, including a road trip to visit my 97 year old mother and many more days to spend outdoors in the garden and on long walks around town, but I’m looking forward to my May reading, as well.
One of the special books on my bookshelf is The Unicorn and Other Poems, by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. I bought this book many, many years ago, and revisit it often to read the poems that touched my heart when I first read them and now have special meaning in my life. They express so eloquently many of my own inner feelings and thoughts, and so have become treasures for me.
Anne Morrow Lindbergh was the wife of the famous aviator, Charles Lindbergh, who was a hero to many. After finding this book of poetry, and then reading all of AML’s diaries and fiction, she became for me the real hero in the family. She was a gentle soul, but with a tremendous inner strength, forged partly through tragedy. She lived an amazing life traveling all over the world with her husband, and she became a pioneer aviator herself. She was intelligent and introverted, and a beautiful writer. Her books, North to the Orient and Listen! The Wind told fascinating stories of their world travels. Her diaries and letters were her way of processing life as it happened.
“I must write it all out, at any cost. Writing is thinking. It is more than living, for it is being conscious of living.”
In her wonderful book, Gift From the Sea, she “shares her meditations on youth and age; love and marriage; peace, solitude and contentment as she set them down during a brief vacation by the sea.” (words from her daughter, Reeve).
But as I said before, it is her poetry that really touches my heart. One of my favorite poems in this book is called “Bare Tree.” I loved it the first time I read it, but it is even more meaningful to me at this age and stage of life, so I love it now in a whole new way.
Already I have shed the leaves of youth,
stripped by the wind of time down to the truth
of winter branches. Linear and alone
I stand, a lens for lives beyond my own,
a frame through which another’s fire may glow,
a harp on which another’s passion, blow.
The pattern of my boughs, an open chart
spread on the sky, to others may impart
its leafless mysteries that I once prized,
before bare roots and branches equalized,
tendrils that tap the rain or twigs the sun
are all the same, shadow and substance one.
Now that my vulnerable leaves are cast aside,
there’s nothing left to shield, nothing to hide.
Blow through me, Life, pared down at last to bone,
so fragile and so fearless have I grown!
I chose to reread this book as one of my 50-books-in-5-years for The Classics Club. It’s a book I have re-read many times in my life and each time I read it, I love it even more.
Since April is National Poetry Month, I’d like to share another favorite poem of mine. It’s actually the first poem I remember and a very early memory for me. When I was little, my mother used to braid my hair. To help me sit quietly she would recite poetry to me. This memory of my mother’s tender loving care combined with this tenderhearted poem has always been a precious memory for me. The poem is called Little Boy Blue and the author was Eugene Field, who also wrote the beloved poem Wynken, Blynken, and Nod, which I also remember from my hair braiding sessions. No wonder I have loved poetry all my life!
I love the month of April, not just because Spring finally arrives after all the rainy grayness of our area, but also because it’s National Poetry Month. Poetry is a big part of my life. My grandmother was a poet, and there was always poetry in my family as I was growing up. I loved teaching poetry to elementary students for 27 years (there was so much young talent!!), and I love to write poetry, although I don’t do it often. I am in awe of the poets, the wordsmiths. They seem to have a direct line to the collective wisdom of the centuries. They definitely have a direct line to my heart.
Throughout April I always try to keep ‘a poem in my pocket’ and read as much poetry as I can. This month, I’d like to share a few of my favorites with you.
So here’s an all time favorite of mine…one I discovered when my son was a newborn 45 years ago. It touched me very deeply way back then, so I always include this poem with the knitted baby blankets and sweaters I give as gifts to friends and family when a new baby is born.
~ by Sylvia Plath, from Ariel
Love set you going like a fat gold watch.
The midwife slapped our footsoles, and your bald cry
Took its place among the elements.
Our voices echo, magnifying your arrival. New statue.
In a drafty museum, your nakedness
Shadows our safety. We stand round blankly as walls.
I’m no more your mother
Than the cloud that distils a mirror to reflect its own slow
Effacement at the wind’s hand.
All night your moth-breath
Flickers among the flat pink roses. I wake to listen:
A far sea moves in my ear.
One cry, and I stumble from bed, cow-heavy and floral
In my Victorian nightgown.
Your mouth opens clean as a cat’s. The window square
Whitens and swallows its dull stars. And now you try
Your handful of notes;
The clear vowels rise like balloons.
I love the wise words in this beautiful poem by Veronica Patterson!
These poems along with beautiful photography and art are found on the Facebook page of Parker J. Palmer, founder of The Center for Courage and Renewal. I admire his work, and these posts of poetry and art are a special treat when they show up on my FB feed.
This beautifully written story is uplifting reading for this time when we are surrounded by so much fear and hate. Naomi Shihab Nye is a wonderful writer (I love her poetry!) and a lovely human being. I hope you enjoy these wise words as much as I did.
~ by William Stafford
It could happen any time, tornado,
earthquake, Armageddon. It could happen.
Or sunshine, love, salvation.
It could, you know. That’s why we wake
and look out—no guarantees
in this life.
But some bonuses, like morning,
like right now, like noon,