The leaves of an elm splash
dappled sunlight on the forest
floor. A chill lingers in the
air so we share hot chocolate
from a thermos, pour the creamy
liquid into insulated mugs.
Age does not prevent her
from sprawling on the earth
she loves so passionately.
She leans against the tree’s
stout trunk, says, “I’m yours.”
My mouth is dry like when
the dentist stuffs it full of
cotton rolls. Disbelief numbs
me till she laughs—a sound
as real as songs of her beloved
birds that sing their prayers
in unison from the surrounding
branches and marshy meadows.
“I’m yours,” she says again,
reminding me I’m here to do
the interview I’ve wished for,
nurtured in my imagination
since I discovered her.
“Your life,” I coax, knowing
that but a single word suffices.
As for myself
I swung the door open and there was
The wordless singing world. And I ran for my life.
“You ran to it?”
“Yes, immersed myself in beauty.”
While on and on the sparrow sings.
“And aging? If you don’t mind, that is.”
In the deep fall, don’t you imagine the leaves think
how comfortable it will be to touch
…and what shall I wish for myself but,
being so struck by the lightning of years
to live with what is left, loving.
time enough for all the wonderful things
I could think of to do
In a single day…
“If you could choreograph your death?”
…Maybe on a midsummer night’s eve,
And without fanfare.
So it is
if the heart has devoted itself to love, there is
not a single inch of emptiness. Gladness gleams
all the way to the grave.
If there’s a temple, I haven’t found it yet,
I simply go on drifting, in the heaven of grass
and the weeds.
She takes her leave.
I watch her walk across the fields,
stopping to listen
or to follow the flight of a heron.
She’s alone now
with Percy her dog
and memories of having lived well.
I would do just about anything to spend an hour with Mary Oliver, a poet who has touched my life and my writing so deeply. This is an imagined interview. The responses in italics are all snippets of her poetry chosen from the Volume “New and Selected Poems, Volume Two.” I wrote this in response to Claudia’s prompt on Saturday but didn’t have time to develop it beyond an idea. So here it is, linked to dVerse Poets Open Link Night. The mics are open Tuesday, 3:00 EST. Check it out!