It wakes you in the morning
before the morning
glories open and gives you
the sound of your mother’s voice.
Life spreads itself across
the ceiling to make you think
you are penned in, but that
is just another gift. Life takes
what you thought you couldn’t live
without and gives you a heron instead.
And a dragonfly, stitching its way
through the milkweed. Life contains all
of your tears in a vessel
shaped like hands in prayer.
Life is shape, sight, sound, bone.
It whispers and sings and holds
you and you almost never feel it.
You push your way from phase to phase.
You think you are pulling, but you
are being driven.
While going about your solitary life,
one hoof in front of the other,
real life is turning the stars,
like mirrors, in your direction.
My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird –
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.
Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,
which is mostly standing still and learning to be
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all the ingredients are here,
which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.
~~ Mary Oliver ~~