Maybe

by Mary Oliver
As I was searching for poems for a memorial service, I looked through some poems by Mary Oliver, a woman I usually take to be a Buddhist poet though I have no evidence other than the way her words land in my heart, and found this gem which I want to share.


Sweet Jesus, talking
his melancholy madness,
stood up in the boat
and the sea lay down,

silky and sorry.
So everybody was saved
that night.
But you know how it is

when something
different crosses
the threshold—the uncles
mutter together,

the women walk away,
the young brother begins
to sharpen his knife.
Nobody knows what the soul is.

It comes and goes
like the wind over the water—
sometimes, for days,
you don’t think of it.

Maybe after the sermon,
after the multitude was fed,
one or two of them felt
the soul slip forth

like a tremor of pure sunlight,
before exhaustion,
that wants to swallow everything,
gripped their bones and left them

miserable and sleepy,
as they are now, forgetting
how the wind tore at the sails
before he rose and talked to it—

tender and luminous and demanding
as he always was—
a thousand times more frightening
than the killer sea.



If you want to read more of Mary Oliver’s poems, here are some that I like.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

A Riff on “The Impossible Dream”

White Owl Flies Into and Out of the Field

“Che Fece .... Il Gran Rifiuto”