“Not Anyone Who Says” by Mary Oliver

Not anyone who says, “I’m going to be
careful and smart in matters of love,”
who says, “I’m going to choose slowly,”
but only those lovers who didn’t choose at all
but were, as it were, chosen
by something invisible and powerful and uncontrollable
and beautiful and possibly even
unsuitable —
only those know what I’m talking about
in this talking about love.

from: Felicity: Poems by Mary Oliver, Penguin Press.

“Old Men” by Ken Hada

I make it a point now
to wave to old men I pass
old men standing in shade
of a yard, maybe
a daughter’s place
where now he’s just a tenant
trying to understand role reversal.

I raise my forefinger
As I steer country roads or pass
Through tired neighborhoods.
Most return a wave or nod Howdy.
Driving gives you some perspective,
shows you how you might end up.

We allow something
now, especially those of us sitting
on porch swings, those
who never got around to going
somewhere, those
who still feel like something
somehow is missing.

“Old Men” by Ken Hada from Spare Parts. © Mongrel Empire Press, 2010.

“Untold” by W.S. Merwin

The taste of falling is something we
ignore but that we never forget
we do not know how many animals
we share it with or what creatures
at every moment die away from it
without ever saying a word about it
they are gone they are gone but we go on
breathing it breathing it but without
ever knowing it without ever saying it
this very moment it has come and gone
without ever having had a name
how can we address it as long as we live
why would we want to as long as we live
besides all the nothings we say
between shining and laughing
sometimes we even forget silence
but silence forgets us at every breath

— W.S. Merwin, from his newest book Garden Time (Copper Canyon Press, 2016).  Copyright © 2016 by W. S. Merwin.

“His Stillness” by Sharon Olds

The doctor said to my father, “You asked me
to tell you when nothing more could be done.
That’s what I’m telling you now.” My father
sat quite still, as he always did,
especially not moving his eyes. I had thought
he would rave if he understood he would die,
wave his arms and cry out. He sat up,
thin, and clean, in his clean gown,
like a holy man. The doctor said,
“There are things we can do which might give you time,
but we cannot cure you.” My father said,
“Thank you.” And he sat, motionless, alone,
with the dignity of a foreign leader.
I sat beside him. This was my father.
He had known he was mortal. I had feared they would have to
tie him down. I had not remembered
he had always held still and kept quiet to bear things,
the liquor a way to keep still. I had not
known him. My father had dignity. At the
end of his life his life began
to wake in me.

“His Stillness” by Sharon Olds, from Strike Sparks. © Random House, 2004.

“Deer Season” by Barbara Tanner Angell

My sister and her friend, Johnny Morley,
used to go on Saturdays to the Bancroft Hotel
to visit his grandfather.

One autumn, the beginning of deer season,
the old man told them,

“Used to hunt when I was a boy,
woods all around here then,
but I never went again after that time…

the men went out, took me with them,
and I shot my first buck.
It was wounded, lying in the leaves,

so they told me,
take the pistol, shoot it in the head.
I went straight up to it,
looked right into its eyes.

Just before I pulled the trigger,
it licked my hand.”

“Deer Season” by Barbara Tanner Angell from The Long Turn Toward the Light: Collected Poems © Cleveland State University Poetry Center.