by Mary Oliver
This is what love is:
The dry rose bush the gardener, in his pruning, missed
Suddenly bursts into bloom.
A madness of delight; an obsession.
A holy gift, certainly,
But often, alas, improbable.
Why couldn’t Romeo have settled for someone else?
Why couldn’t Tristan and Isolde have refused
The shining cup
Which would have left peaceful the whole kingdom?
Wild sings the bird of the heart in the forests
Of our lives.
Over and over Faust, standing in the garden, doesn’t know
Anything that’s going to happen, he only sees
The face of Marguerite, which is irresistible
And wild, wild sings the bird.
You can find this in Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver.
At the End of the Day: A Mirror of Questions
by John O’Donohue
What dreams did I create last night?
Where did my eyes linger today?
Where was I blind?
Where was I hurt without anyone noticing?
What did I learn today?
What did I read?
What new thoughts visited me?
What differences did I notice in those closest to me?
Whom did I neglect?
Where did I neglect myself?
What did I begin today that might endure?
How were my conversations?
What did I do today for the poor and the excluded?
Did I remember the dead today?
When could I have exposed myself to the risk of something different?
Where did I allow myself to receive love?
With whom today did I feel most myself?
What reached me today?
How did it imprint?
Who saw me today?
What visitations had I from the past and from the future?
What did I avoid today?
From the evidence – why was I given this day?
You can find this poem in . To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings
The World I Live In
by Mary Oliver
I have refused to live
locked in the orderly house of
reasons and proofs.
The world I live in and believe in
is wider than that. And anyway,
what’s wrong with
You wouldn’t believe what once or
twice I have seen. I’ll just
tell you this:
only if there are angels in your head will you
ever, possibly, see one.
You can find this in . Felicity
by Wendell Berry
I go among trees and sit still.
All my stirring becomes quiet around me like circles on water. My tasks lie in their places where I left them, asleep like cattle.
Then what is afraid of me comes
and lives a while in my sight. What it fears in me leaves me, and the fear of me leaves it. It sings, and I hear its song.
Then what I am afraid of comes.
I live for a while in its sight. What I fear in it leaves it, and the fear of it leaves me. It sings, and I hear its song.
After days of labor,
mute in my consternations, I hear my song at last, and I sing it. As we sing, the day turns, the trees move.
You can find this in This Day: Collected & New Sabbath Poems.
by Mary Oliver
Oh do you have time
to linger for just a little while out of your busy
and very important day
for the goldfinches that have gathered in a field of thistles
for a musical battle,
to see who can sing the highest note, or the lowest,
or the most expressive of mirth,
or the most tender? Their strong, blunt beaks drink the air
as they strive
melodiously not for your sake and not for mine
and not for the sake of winning
but for sheer delight and gratitude – believe us, they say, it is a serious thing
just to be alive
on this fresh morning in the broken world. I beg of you,
do not walk by
without pausing to attend to this rather ridiculous performance.
It could mean something.
It could mean everything. It could be what Rilke meant, when he wrote: You must change your life.
You can find this poem in . Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver
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The Peace of Wild Things
by Wendell Berry
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be, I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief. I come into the presence of still water. And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light. For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
You can find this poem in New Collected Poems.
by Joy Harjo
I had a beautiful dream I was dancing with a tree.
Some things on this earth are unspeakable:
Genealogy of the broken— A shy wind threading leaves after a massacre, Or the smell of coffee and no one there—
Some humans say trees are not sentient beings,
But they do not understand poetry—
Nor can they hear the singing of trees when they are fed by
Wind, or water music— Or hear their cries of anguish when they are broken and bereft—
Now I am a woman longing to be a tree, planted in a moist, dark earth
Between sunrise and sunset—
I cannot walk through all realms—
I carry a yearning I cannot bear alone in the dark—
What shall I do with all this heartache?
The deepest-rooted dream of a tree is to walk
Even just a little ways, from the place next to the doorway— To the edge of the river of life, and drink—
I have heard trees talking, long after the sun has gone down:
Imagine what would it be like to dance close together In this land of water and knowledge. . .
To drink deep what is undrinkable.
You will find this poem in
Conflict Resolutions for Holy Beings.
By Jane Yolen
I am the Earth
And the Earth is me. Each blade of grass, Each honey tree, Each bit of mud, And stick and stone Is blood and muscle, Skin and bone.
And just as I
Need every bit Of me to make My body fit, So Earth needs Grass and stone and tree And things that grow here Naturally.
That’s why we
Celebrate this day. That’s why across The world we say: As long as life, As dear, as free, I am the Earth And the Earth is me.
You can find this poem in . The Three Bears Holiday Rhyme Book
Jennifer Finney Boylan’s new book,
, shares the story of her beautiful, complicated, transitioned life with dogs as constant companions. She starts with herself as Jimmy, a young boy who learns to hide who he wants to become from both his family and friends. The fear of being rejected keeps Jimmy from sharing his secret with anyone, even as he becomes an adult. Good Boy: My Life in Seven Dogs
Jimmy’s transition to Jennifer is infused with humor so it’s not too sad or serious. Although I’m not a dog person, I truly enjoyed the cameos of her different dogs, their unbelievable quirks, and hilarious escapades. There is a dog person vs. cat person essay that is spot-on.
is a story that will likely resonated with many people who are transgender or who are considering this step, as well as their families and friends. It gave me a lot of insight into the inner struggle a person has as they wrestle with this decision, and try to figure out who they can trust, who they can tell. Good Boy
The author shares with such vulnerability and openness that I was immediately captivated and I think you will feel the same. If you’re interested or curious about transgender issues and/or if you love dogs, you will thoroughly enjoy this book!
(I received an advanced reading copy from Celadon Books in exchange for my honest review.)
by Jane Hirshfield
One moment, the mountain is clear
in strong morning sunlight. The next, vanished in a fog.
I return to Tu Fu, afraid to look up again
from my reading and find in the window moonlight–
but when I do, the fog is still there,
and only the ancient poet’s hair has turned gray
while a single wild goose passed him, silently climbing.
You can find this poem in After.