“The Sunflowers” by Mary Oliver

via Pexals.com

Come with me
into the field of sunflowers.
Their faces are burnished disks,
their dry spines

creak like ship masts,
their green leaves,
so heavy and many,
fill all day with the sticky

sugars of the sun.
Come with me
to visit the sunflowers,
they are shy

but want to be friends;
they have wonderful stories
of when they were young –
the important weather,

the wandering crows.
Don’t be afraid
to ask them questions!
Their bright faces,

which follow the sun,
will listen, and all
those rows of seeds –
each one a new life!

hope for a deeper acquaintance;
each of them, though it stands
in a crowd of many,
like a separate universe,

is lonely, the long work
of turning their lives
into a celebration
is not easy. Come

and let us talk with those modest faces,
the simple garments of leaves,
the coarse roots in the earth
so uprightly burning.

Mary Oliver, from New and Selected Poems, Beacon Press.

“Heavy” by Mary Oliver (repost)

That time
I thought I could not
go any closer to grief
without dying

I went closer,
and I did not die.
Surely God
had his hand in this,

as well as friends.
Still, I was bent,
and my laughter,
as the poet said,

was nowhere to be found.
Then said my friend Daniel,
(brave even among lions),
“It’s not the weight you carry

but how you carry it –
books, bricks, grief –
it’s all in the way
you embrace it, balance it, carry it

when you cannot, and would not,
put it down.”
So I went practicing.
Have you noticed?

Have you heard
the laughter
that comes, now and again,
out of my startled mouth?

How I linger
to admire, admire, admire
the things of this world
that are kind, and maybe

also troubled –
roses in the wind,
the sea geese on the steep waves,
a love
to which there is no reply?

— “Heavy” by Mary Oliver from Thirst. Originally posted here January 25, 2014.

“The Return” by Mary Oliver


When I went back to the sea
it wasn’t waiting.
Neither had it gone away.
All its musics were safe and sound; the circling gulls
were still a commonplace, the fluted shells
rolled on the shore
more beautiful than money –
oh, yes, more beautiful than money!
The thick-necked seals
stood in the salted waves with their soft, untroubled faces
gazing shoreward –
oh bed of silk,
lie back now on your prairies of blackness your fields of sunlight
that I may look at you.
I am happy to be home.
I do not want to be frisky, and theatrical.
I do not want to go forward in the parade of names.
I do not want to be diligent or necessary or in any way
From my mouth to God’s ear, I swear it; I want only
to be a song.
To wander around in the fields like a little reed bird.
To be a song.
Two eggs rolled from the goose nest
down to the water and halfway into the water.
What good is hoping?
I went there softly, and gathered them
and put them back into the nest
of the goose who bit me hard with her
lovely black beak with the pink
tongue-tip quivering,
and beat my arms with her
lovely long wings
and beat my face with her
lovely long wings,
what good is trying?
She hissed horribly, wanting me to be frightened.
I wasn’t frightened.
I just knew it was over,
those cold white eggs would never hatch,
the birds would forget, soon, and go back,
to the light-soaked pond,
what good is remembering?
But I wasn’t frightened.
Sometimes I really believe it, that I am going to
save my life
a little.
When I found the seal pup alone on the far beach,
not sleeping but looking all around, I didn’t
reason it out, for reason would have sent me away,
I just
went close but not too close, and lay down on the sand
with my back toward it, and
pretty soon it rolled over, and rolled over
until the length of its body lay along
the length of my body, and so we touched, and maybe
our breathing together was some kind of heavenly conversation
in God’s delicate and magnifying language, the one
we don’t dare speak out loud,
not yet.
Rumi the poet was a scholar also.
But Shams, his friend, was an angel.
By which I don’t mean anything patient and sweet,
When I read how he took Rumi’s books and threw them
into the duck pond,
I shouted for joy. Time to live now,
Shams meant.
I see him, turning away
casually toward the road, Rumi following, the books
floating and sinking among the screeching ducks,
oh, beautiful book-eating pond!
The country of the mockingbird is where I now want to be,
thank you, yes.
The days when the snow-white swans might pass over the dunes
are the days I want to eat now, slowly and carefully
and with gratitude. Thank you.
The hours fresh and tidal are the hours I want to hold
in the palm of my hand, thank you, yes.
Such grace, thank you!
The gate I want to open now is the one that leads into
the flower-bed of my mind, thank you, yes.
Every day the slow, fresh wind, thank you, yes.
The wing, in the dark, that touches me.
Thank you.



From What Do We Know: Poems And Prose Poems. Da Capo Press (March 2003).


“Because” by the Beatles, from Abbey Road

“The Return” by Mary Oliver

The deed took all my heart.
I did not think of you,
Not ’til the thing was done.
I put my sword away
And then no more the cold
And perfect fury ran
Along my narrow bones
And then no more the black
And dripping corridors
Hold anywhere the shape
That I had come to slay.
Then for the first time,
I saw in the cave’s belly
The dark and clotted webs,
The green and sucking pools,
The rank and crumbling walls,
The maze of passages.

And I thought then
Of the far earth,
Of the spring sun
And the slow wind,
And a young girl,
And I looked then
At the white thread.

Hunting the minotaur
I was no common man
And had no need of love.
I trailed the shining thread
Behind me, for a vow,
And did not think of you.
It lay there, like a sign,
Coiled on the bull’s great hoof.
And back into the world,
Half blind with weariness
I touched the thread and wept.
O, it was frail as air,
And I turned then
With the white spool

Through the cold rocks,
Through the black rocks.
Through the long webs,
And the mist fell,
And the webs clung.
And the rocks tumbled,
And the earth shook.

And the thread held.


From New and Selected Poems, Volume One

“Hurricane” by Mary Oliver (and how to help those affected by Hurricane Harvey)

It didn’t behave
like anything you had
ever imagined. The wind
tore at the trees, the rain
fell for days slant and hard.
The back of the hand
to everything. I watched
the trees bow and their leaves fall
and crawl back into the earth.
As though, that was that.
This was one hurricane
I lived through, the other one
was of a different sort, and
lasted longer. Then
I felt my own leaves giving up and
falling. The back of the hand to
 But listen now to what happened
to the actual trees;
toward the end of that summer they
pushed new leaves from their stubbed limbs.
It was the wrong season, yes,
but they couldn’t stop. They
looked like telephone poles and didn’t
care. And after the leaves came
blossoms. For some things
there are no wrong seasons.
Which is what I dream of for me.

Mary Oliver,  A Thousand Mornings.

Related read via OnBeing.


Please consider supporting those affected — and those helping those affected — by Hurricane Harvey. I’ve included several links: to J.J. Watts’s YouCaring page, to the SPCA of Texas, to two NPR articles (one on the many animal rescues that have taken place, and one on the many ways you can help), and more:

How to Help:

J.J. Watts’s YouGiving Site

The SPCA of Texas – Hurricane Harvey Support

Soul Horse is coordinating efforts to rescue horses and livestock, as well as hay transport. I fell in love with Randi Collier’s facebook page and all of the photos of local cowboys taking on the “hard” or “impossible” rescues. Specific needs and how to donate (mostly need $ to cover fuel and transportation).

The Harris County (Houston, TX) Animal Shelter has an Amazon Wishlist.

This Facebook Group “Texas Shelters Donations/Supply List Needs” has several organizations’ Amazon Wishlists posted.

NPR: “Here’s How You Can Help People Affected By Harvey” (includes links to local food banks, shelters, animal rescues…)

If you cannot give money or items, please consider giving blood.

NPR: “From Hawk To Horse: Animal Rescues During Hurricane Harvey

This video from The Dodo shows some of the animal rescues mentioned in the above NPR article. (The Dodo also has an article on how to help animals affected by Harvey.):

And click to help the Humane Society’s Animal Rescue Team who have been rescuing animals from flooded homes and bringing them to safety:


Thank you we are saying and waving / dark though it is*

*with a nod to W.S. Merwin, whom you will hear more from next time. ❤