On the Road Home

by Wallace Stevens It was when I said, “There’s no such thing as the truth,” That the grapes seemed fatter. The fox ran out of his hole. You… You said, “There are many truths, But they are not parts of a truth.” Then the tree, at night, began to change, Smoking through green and smoking blue. We were two figures in a wood. We said we stood alone. It was when I said, “Words are not forms of a single word, In the sum of the parts, there are only the parts. The world must be measured by eye.” It was when you said, “The idols have seen lots of poverty, Snakes and gold and lice, But not the truth”; It was at that time, that the silence was largest And longest, the night was roundest, The fragrance of the autumn warmest, Closest and strongest.

Night and the River

by Mary Oliver I have seen the great feet leaping into the river and I have seen moonlight milky along the long muzzle and I have seen the body of something scaled and wonderful slumped in the sudden fire of its mouth, and I could not tell which fit me more comfortably, the power, or the powerlessness; neither would have me entirely; I was divided, consumed, by sympathy, pity, admiration. After a while it was done, the fish had vanished, the bear lumped away to the green shore and into the trees. And then there was only this story. It followed me home and entered my house— a difficult guest with a single tune which it hums all day and through the night— slowly or briskly, it doesn’t matter, it sounds like a river leaping and falling it sounds like a body falling apart. If you want to read more of Mary Oliver’s poems, here are some that I like.

The Buddha's Last Instruction

by Mary Oliver “Make of yourself a light” said the Buddha, before he died. I think of this every morning as the east begins to tear off its many clouds of darkness, to send up the first signal-a white fan streaked with pink and violet, even green. An old man, he lay down between two sala trees, and he might have said anything, knowing it was his final hour. The light burns upward, it thickens and settles over the fields. Around him, the villagers gathered and stretched forward to listen. Even before the sun itself hangs, disattached, in the blue air, I am touched everywhere by its ocean of yellow waves. No doubt he thought of everything that had happened in his difficult life. And then I feel the sun itself as it blazes over the hills, like a million flowers on fire- clearly I’m not needed, yet I feel myself turning into something of inexplicable value. Slowly, beneath the branches, he raised his head. He looked into the faces of that frightened crow


by Mary Oliver What did you notice? The dew snail; the low-flying sparrow; the bat, on the wind, in the dark; big-chested geese, in the V of sleekest performance; the soft toad, patient in the hot sand; the sweet-hungry ants; the uproar of mice in the empty house; the tin music of the cricket’s body; the blouse of the goldenrod. What did you hear? The thrush greeting the morning; the little bluebirds in their hot box; the salty talk of the wren, then the deep cup of the hour of silence. What did you admire? The oaks, letting down their dark and hairy fruit; the carrot, rising in its elongated waist; the onion, sheet after sheet, curved inward to the pale green wand; at the end of summer the brassy dust, the almost liquid beauty of the flowers; then the ferns, scrawned black by the frost. What astonished you? The swallows making their dip and turn over the water. What would you like to see again? My dog: her energy and exuberance, her willingness,

Wild Geese

by Mary Oliver You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves. Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine. Meanwhile the world goes on. Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain are moving across the landscapes, over the prairies and the deep trees, the mountains and the rivers. Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, are heading home again. Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination, calls you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting - over and over announcing your place in the family of things. from Dream Work , 1985 If you want to read more of Mary Oliver’s poems, here are some that I like.

Hiku for Mary

Even grandma goes out drinking-- moonlit night -Issa

At Lake Scugog

by Troy Jollimore 1. Where what I see comes to rest, at the edge of the lake, against what I think I see and, up on the bank, who I am maintains an uneasy truce with who I fear I am, while in the cabin’s shade the gap between the words I said and those I remember saying is just wide enough to contain the remains that remain of what I assumed I knew. 2. Out in the canoe, the person I thought you were gingerly trades spots with the person you are and what I believe I believe sits uncomfortably next to what I believe. When I promised I will always give you what I want you to want, you heard, or desired to hear, something else. As, over and in the lake, the cormorant and its image traced paths through the sky. From: The NewYorker July 27, 2009