Remembering Mary

Every time a Mary Oliver poem crosses my path, I am again astounded by her profound sense of life.  Her writing is so powerfully beautiful, elegant, exquisite.  Yet she is so succinct in conveying her thoughts. I was searching for her poem “The Cosmic Dancer,” when I encountered this one:

 “When Death Comes”

When death comes

like the hungry bear in autumn;

when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;

when death comes

like the measle-pox

when death comes

like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:

what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything

as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,

and I look upon time as no more than an idea,

and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common

as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,

tending, as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something

precious to the earth.

When it’s over, I want to say all my life

I was a bride married to amazement.

I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder

if I have made of my life something particular, and real.

I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,

or full of argument.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.

Mary Oliver left this world in January 2019 at age 84, clearly not having “simply visited this world.”  Reading her words reminded me of another Mary, a published poet as well, and a dear friend of mine, who died in January this year, having been well on her way to 102.  Mary Monroe was a delightful little sprite.  She had her own style in every way, yet her poetry had the same way of captivating me both with its beauty and its concise delivery.  Single poems had won awards and been published.  But in 2020 at age 99, she selected some of her favorites into a book titled Woven Flecks of Thought. Sadly, I think my copy did not survive this move.  I am in search of another. 

May we be bearers of hope, the “wait staff” of Hope’s Café for each other and all those we encounter.  Shalom, Kate

Hope’s Cafe Bonus: “Poetry … is the revelation of a feeling that the poet believes to be interior and personal which the reader recognizes as his own.” — Salvatore Quasimodo, from a speech in New York, quoted in The New York Times

3 thoughts on “Remembering Mary”

  1. I am so wonderfully moved by the poem today. What a statement about life, even though it is about death coming. I too hope that I will not be satisfied to simply have “just visited the earth.” Thank you for sharing. I passed this poem on to the other participants in the book discussion group I am currently in as we read and discuss the book, “Age-ing to Sage-ing. A wonderful study on making a difference in the later years of life…. kinda like you are already doing.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: