Wild Geese

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.
© Mary Oliver, retrieved from Modern American Poetry


by Robert Hass

Because yesterday morning from the steamy window
we saw a pair of red foxes across the creek
eating the last windfall apples in the rain –
they looked up at us with their green eyes
long enough to symbolize the wakefulness of living things
and then went back to eating –

and because this morning
when she went into the gazebo with her black pen and yellow pad
to coax an inquisitive soul
from what she thinks of as the reluctance of matter.
I drove into town to drink tea in the cafe
and write notes in a journal – mist rose from the bay
like the luminous and indefinite aspects of intention,
and a small flock of tundra swans
for the second winter in a row was feeding on new grass
in the soaked fields; they symbolize mystery, I suppose,
they are also called whistling swans, are very white.
and their eyes are black –

and because the tea steamed in front of me,
and the notebook, turned to a new page,
was blank except for a faint blue idea of order,
I wrote: happiness! it is December, very cold,
we woke early this morning,
and lay in bed kissing,
our eyes squinched up like bats.


I am writing more right now than I have since the days I blogged constantly about nothing. I am trying to work out what I am thinking in words when there are none that can describe how infinite I am feeling. I am sitting in the office and the shadows are playing on my tanned arms resting on the laptop at the desk in the corner. I am listening to Rachael Yamagata and reading The Mystic Heart. I am finding.

In the meantime, and for lack of actual content, a poem, not my own:

Book of Hours

Economically, she shakes her hair
back over her shoulders, gathers it
with one hand, and bends to drink
at the fountain. If this
were the opening of a story,

you’d think so she is that kind
of woman – solitary, or a dancer
in street dress who can’t cover
her practiced grace. You might
not be right, just a man who wants

to sleep with some idea or who’s read
that Chekhov described a character
in The Seagull simply as wearing
checked trousers. But still,
as in the Limbourgs’ miniature

of October, a gesture can illumine
or betray. Everything has a little
shadow: plowman and beast, scarecrow,
magpies, man sowing seed, and footprints
of that man. At the river

boats rest on their reflections;
a washerwoman bends over and her image
bends back so accurately it’s abstract,
a study of the momentary.
The way, for example, that you

looked up from your book, squinting
in the solid light. If this were
the opening of a story, I’d guess you
a man of lay devotions, taken
with the casual secrets of chance.

– Debora Greger