January 17th (Mary Oliver)

The poet Mary Oliver died today. She was one of my favorites. Her stuff is so effortless (or seems so) and simple (well, not really, but again, seemed so). I guess good art seems effortless and simple. Her stuff is full of observations of the natural world. I love the way she sees. Sometimes I don’t know how to write about what I see, and I look at the way she writes about what she sees, and I’m thankful and content to let her see for me. It’s ok to rest and let others see for us.

Here’s an excerpt:

At night
under the trees
the black snake
jellies forward
rubbing
roughly
the stems of the bloodroot,
the yellow leaves,
little boulders of bark,
to take off
the old life.
I don`t know
if he knows
what is happening.
I don`t know
if he knows
it will work.
In the distance
the moon and the stars
give a little light.
In the distance
the owl cries out.

In the distance
the owl cries out.
The snake knows
these are the owl`s woods,
these are the woods of death,
these are the woods of hardship
where you crawl and crawl,
where you live in the husks of trees,
where you lie on the wild twigs
and they cannot bear your weight,
where life has no purpose
and is neither civil nor intelligent.

Where life has no purpose,
and is neither civil nor intelligent,
it begins
to rain,
it begins
to smell like the bodies
of flowers.
At the back of the neck
the old skin splits.
The snake shivers
but does not hesitate.
He inches forward.
He begins to bleed through
like satin.

Mary Oliver, excerpt from Rain (7 The Forest)

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