“No one gets out of here in a body, but surely everyone gets out of here Alive.”
That thought came to me this morning.
I’ve been aware for some months now that I’ve been more or less preparing myself (how does one do this?) for the palpable, physical absence of Mary Oliver in the world. This poet’s Poet. The one I most cherish. The One Who Sees It All.
As if I’d already known she was ill, I’ve thought about how much beauty will go unnoticed, how much wisdom will go unwritten when she leaves us.
After working with the Runes this morning I opened her latest book, Blue Horses, to continue where I’d pulled myself to a stop last week, that morning when I read one poem after another, finally realizing that, in my gluttony I was only skimming the top. Of course, with Mary Oliver it’s all “the top” – each first line being as rich as the bottom, as fatty-lean as the rest. Nonetheless, on that morning last week I set down the luscious, creamy-papered volume and fasted until The Call to Richness came again, which it did this morning after consulting the Runes on what The Little Prince would call “matters of consequence”. (Pooh, on the other hand, would simply say, “It’s time for a little smackerel of something,” then head back home for honey.)
As I replaced the burgundy bag of glyphed stones on its customary bottom shelf between Dorothy Parker and Edith Hamilton, one stone fell out. “Is this a signal I’m to follow?” I questioned myself about reading the text for Eihwaz after having already been laid low by Nauthiz. Putting Mary on hold, I again pulled out Ralph Blum’s book, this time to read, “This Rune speaks to the difficulties that arise at the beginning of a new life.” (I liked that “new life” part). “Often it announces a time of waiting – for a spring to fill up with water, for fruit to ripen on the bough . . .” On it went, as a Rune (and Pooh) is wont to do, then ended on a familiar Runic note: “Set your house in order, tend to business, be clear and wait on the Will of Heaven.”
Only after copying Eihwaz wisdom into my journal – and returning the little volume back to whatever comfort is afforded it by being between Dorothy and Edith – did I pick up Blue Horses, ready to savor its remaining poems.
Oh my . . . As if to not startle me yet I open to the page before Thuh Page, opened to a poem called “On Not Mowing the Lawn: “Let the noise of the mower be banished, hurrah!” (I’m with you on this, Mary, only I’d add leaf-blowers to the list.) Then I turn the page: On Thuh Page is a poem entitled Fourth Sign of the Zodiac. Its first two lines, “Why should I have been surprised? Hunters walk the forest without a sound,” are followed at poem’s end by “just as the cancer entered the forest of my body, without a sound.” Was this about Mary? Was is about Molly Malone Cook, her partner who died in 2005?
On that day last week when I was binging on her poems I was very aware of the tone of this newest book. Something was different. She was different. I presumed it had to do with aging (she’s 79).
No one gets out of here in a body (well, He did, presumably), but surely everyone gets out of here Alive. When I knew at twelve years of age that I’d always lived as somebody and always would live as somebody, I pretty much settled down about dying. I knew that I was “4-ever”! Lately I’ve not been as thrilled about that as I was back then (life has a way of wearing one down). Not unlike Pooh, though, I can usually take care of such matters with a little smackerel of something. Mary Oliver knows, as the Little Prince said, “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. That which is essential is invisible to the eye.” I know it, too, and know that Mary’s eye and heart are truly one and the same.
To read Maria Shriver’s interview with Mary Oliver click the following link: http://www.oprah.com/entertainment/Maria-Shriver-Interviews-Poet-Mary-Oliver
© Amy Pierce and In Spiritual Wonder, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Amy Pierce and In Spiritual Wonder with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.