THE BALM OF POETRY #12 MARY OLIVER AND LOSS

2020 has been a terrible year for so many reasons, not least the loss of nearly two millions lives around the world from the scourge of COVID-19. None wanted to die. The vast majority had families who were left behind to mourn. Yet, because of pandemic restrictions, most were unable to do so, beyond small private remembrances. For the most part, there have been no gatherings to celebrate the life of the departed, proper send-offs which are always such a solace.

And of course, the same has been true for those who did not die from COVID19. We are left alone with our grief.

Very recently, a very good, longtime friend of mine died unexpectedly.  Her death was a terrible shock to myself and the large number of people who knew and loved her. Some of us have been in touch with each other, talking it out, sharing our feelings and memories. One of them forwarded a poem by the late Mary Oliver. It is about death, but….well, just read it. If you are among those who have lost someone close to you this year, may it bring you comfort.

WHITE OWL FLIES INTO AND OUT OF THE FIELD

Coming down

out of the freezing sky

with its depths of light,

like an angel,

or a Buddha with wings,

it was beautiful

and accurate,

striking the snow and whatever was there

with a force that left the imprint

of the tips of its wings—-

five feet apart—-and the grabbing

thrust of its feet,

and the indentation of what had been running

through the white valleys

of the snow —-

* * * *

and then it rose, gracefully,

and flew back to the frozen marshes,

to lurk there,

like a little lighthouse,

in the blue shadows—-

so I thought:

maybe death

isn’t darkness, after all,

but so much light

wrapping itself around us—-

as soft as feathers—-

that we are instantly weary

of looking, and looking, and shut our eyes,

* * * *

not without amazement,

and let ourselves be carried,

as through the translucence of mica,

to the river

that is without the least dapple or shadow—-

that is nothing but light—-scalding, aortal light—-

in which we are washed and washed

out of our bones.

5 thoughts on “THE BALM OF POETRY #12 MARY OLIVER AND LOSS

  1. Thank you for sharing this beautiful poem. Those last few lines—”scalding, aortal light in which we are washed and washed out of our bones” pierced my heart and took me back to the enormous loss I felt when Clive died—also unexpectedly. You are fortunate to have had such a meaningful friendship with your dear friend, and I offer my condolences to you and all those who knew and loved her.

    Linda

    >

    • Thanks so much, Linda….I really appreciate your heartfelt words….and yes, Clive…still remembered….what a lovely person he was, who did so much…..I hope you’re persevering, even in these grim times….

  2. Lovely. Simply lovely.

  3. Thanks, Rod. Sorry for your troubles. Sending an electronic hug from Kitchener.

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