Friday, August 19, 2011



"Another morning 
and I wake with thirst 
for the goodness I do not have. "

-- Mary Oliver

Written in the throes of grief, these are the opening lines of the title poem of Oliver's book, Thirst; poems written after the death of her partner, Molly.

The scents of loss and hope mingle throughout the poems, and they have a way of awakening the heart to the sorrow that surrounds us, not just our own but that of those we love. 

But at the same time they have a way of reminding us that joy is like the sea, receding with the tide so that the beach grows thirsty in the waiting for its return, sometimes forgetting that return is inevitable.  I know that both my daughters now are grieving for challenges in their own lives, and so I offer up this poem, thinking of them:


That time
I thought I could not
go any closer to grief
without dying

I went closer
and I did not die.
Surely God
had His hand in this,

as well as friends.
Still, I was bent,
and my laughter,
as the poet said,

was nowhere to be found.
Then said my friend Daniel
(brave even among lions),
"It's not the weight you carry

but how you carry it --
books, bricks, grief --
it's all in the way
you embrace it, balance it, carry it

when you cannot, and would not,
put it down."
So I went practicing.
Have you noticed?

Have you heard 
the laughter
that comes, now and again,
out of my startled mouth?

How I linger
to admire, admire, admire
the things of this world 
that are kind, and maybe

also troubled -- 
roses in the wind,
the sea geese on the step waves,
a love
to which there is no reply?


Maureen said...

It's easy to understand why Mary Oliver is so popular. I also have her book "Thirst" and her collected poetry. Her poetry has a way of working on us, as if meant for us alone.

Louise Gallagher said...

What a wonderful offering you have made -- for all of us! Thanks my friend.