My Pen in the Air | RIP poet Mary Oliver

Mary Oliver (1935-2019)

I Happen to Be Standing

I don’t know where prayers go, / or what they do. / Do cats pray, while they sleep / half-asleep in the sun? / Does the opossum pray as it /crosses the street? /The sunflowers? The old black oak / growing older every year? / I know I can walk through the world, / along the shore or under the trees, / with my mind filled with things / of little importance, in full / self-attendance. A condition I can’t really / call being alive. / Is a prayer a gift, or a petition, / or does it matter? / The sunflowers blaze, maybe that’s their way. / Maybe the cats are sound asleep. Maybe not. / While I was thinking this I happened to be standing / just outside my door, with my notebook open, / which is the way I begin every morning. / Then a wren in the privet began to sing. / He was positively drenched in enthusiasm, / I don’t know why. And yet, why not. / I wouldn’t persuade you from whatever you believe / or whatever you don’t. That’s your business. / But I thought, of the wren’s singing, what could this be / if it isn’t a prayer? / So I just listened, my pen in the air.

3 thoughts on “My Pen in the Air | RIP poet Mary Oliver

  1. Thanks for this post, Catherine. Mary Oliver is my favorite contemporary poet and among the best all-time American poets. I introduced her poems to my soon to be 11 year old granddaughter whose sensitivities parallel Mary’s. The path to immortality.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes, thank you, Catherine. I only discovered Mary Oliver two years ago and loved her then just-published Upstream. She reminded me of Elizabeth Bishop and Annie Dillard. A clear, pure, wise voice.

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  3. Yes, thank you, Catherine. I only recently discovered Mary Oliver, and read her _Upstream_ essays. She reminded me of Elizabeth Bishop and Annie Dillard — a clear, wise, honest voice.

    Liked by 1 person

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