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 to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
“I believe that what you sing to the clouds
will rain upon you when your sun, has gone away” – Michael Franti
Recently I committed to doing what I love, not because I am good at it, but just because it brings me joy.
I am not a poet, and I know it. I am scared of criticism and others thinking, “What the Fu#@ is she talking about?”
But I am going to share this poem anyway.
Because I wrote it a few weeks ago after a blissful walk with my dog in the throes of peace and gratitude.
My hope is that maybe it will inspire you too…not necessarily to write poetry, although, that would be great, but to risk making an arse out of yourself for something you love.
My friend Lori reminded me recently that it is better to try and to fail, than to ignore that which we have been wanting to do but haven’t, because of the fear associated with it.
This is a thank you note to the beauty in nature that always leaves me feeling supported, seen, cared for, and a part of something big, beautiful, and mysterious.
The long low hoot of a morning Dove
The sky – a robin egg blue
or the color of a jacket and skirt my Nana wore
I run my hands along the clouds
dipping my finger tips in a cool pool on a hot summer day.
Squirrels playing hide and go seek; jumping, leaping
from branch to branch.
A red cardinal glancing at me through the window
dappled light shining on his bold, bright feathers
bearing witness to my pain.
His presence, his peace, guiding me
letting me know I am never alone
there is always someone
loving us in every moment.
This, is how we enter the world
and this is how we leave.
The gentle rhythm of palm fronds swaying sleepily
dreamily in the wild wind.
The fleeting sunrise and sunset
a mysterious ballet with swirling purples, pinks, and creamsicle-colored
silky ribbons held in the sticky hand of a joy-filled child.
The sun’s rays breaking out behind a cloud – stretching wider and brighter
with welcoming arms of warmth and kindness
embracing those who pause long enough to notice
the wispy, white-winged angels.
The moon; big, bright, and yellow
rising over our Earth
like vanilla flavored birthday cake.
At night, the freckles of light
flicker on the water
diamonds dancing, sparkling with truth
as the phosphorescence
in the dark wet sand
like stars, wink
underneath my feet
lighting the way – a magical, gem-strewn path before me.
A dolphin; smooth and gray gliding under the waves wearing a smile
always a smile
swimming fast, faster
playfully birthing hope, tears, and life.
A seagull’s cry on the cliff overlooking the thunderous waters.
The smell of damp leaf-covered earth
on a raw chilled-to-the-bone morning.
A canopy of Sycamores overhead.
Monarch butterflies flying
like pieces of stained glass
under a witch’s spell
tickling my shoulders.
The twigs and leaves of eucalyptus trees
with their heavenly smell – clean, crisp, pure
they are my saving grace.
One can hear the butterflies – listen –
their wings singing, undulating, flapping freely
without a care in the world.
Sage, rosemary, basil
healing, soothing, purifying
earthy, and sun-drenched.
I place the succulent leaves to my nose
inhaling slowly and deeply
coveting the blessed reprieve
from stifled, suffocated, shoebox air.
The fragrance of frangipanies, of gardenias
an evening filled with laughter and a tingly buzz.
Brightly colored paper lanterns
swaying to the sounds of Spanish guitar.
I hike up a mountain to the summit blanketed in white.
I walk by a bee and a bear
by the crater filled with ice
by the house with the barking dog running
back and forth in his yard with an invisible fence.
While Maple leaves float about like dancing sprites in skirts of red, orange and yellow.
The stroll in the glittery new fallen snow
a mint in my mouth
leaves me feeling cool headed and warm-hearted
for the first time in a long while.
I wait for a kiss under a Dogwood tree
as it showers the pavement below
with pink – purple confetti.
The sanctuary of the beach
the temple of the trees
the sunrise on a strangers face
nature is how I understand
and relate to God.
The cycles of the seasons,
day break and night fall,
tide pools, rocks, shells, and sea glass
thank you for showing up here.
I relish the abundant gifts of diversity, simplicity, and majesty.
Thank you Nature for the gentle nudges
for the rain,
and the plentiful flowers and weeds
fruits, roots, and vegetables.
Sometimes I fear you
but always I have faith in you.
I will do my best to trust my intuition
and this journey
to love others unconditionally
and to be present for you
in your sorrow and triumph.
Thank you Nature for the reminders to be
and to share joy
simply because we are alive
and we matter and how we live matters.
We are valued because we exist.
We are all connected
an intricate tapestry, an essential web,
an integral part
of the family of things.
For more inspiration…copy and paste this link to watch Alanis Morissette’s lovely video, Big Sur. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xyNUeVkzKYU