Wild geese January 2, 2012
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.
By Mary Oliver from Dream Work
The geese are traveling, up above us this time of year. I saw a perfect “V” of them Friday night when I was out in the yard with Adele Rose, the “soon-to-be-2 year-old ” in my life. The sun had set, the sky had that just before dark near purple hue to it. The birds flew in close to us, almost right above the house where you could see their great flapping wings and very long necks, and Adele Rose who loves owls, was mightily impressed.
Tonight, the weekend over and the work week soon upon me, on a whim, I picked up a book of Mary Oliver’s poems, reading a few of them until finally I settled on ”Wild Geese”, an old friend of mine. It’s funny how you might think that you “know” a poem–that it is inside of you already and then reading it again after a long absence, it is a new thing, almost altogether.
I think what happens is life itself moving over our bodies and our souls day in and out like a river, swirling about us. In its current we swim, we breathe, we live, we laugh, we grieve, we worry, we grow and change. Life, it does not stop for us, not one bit.
“Geese” I said and “geese” she answered back.
Happy New Year everyone!