Thursday, January 7, 2010

In Blackwater Woods

In Blackwater Woods

Look, the trees
are turning
their own bodies
into pillars

of light,
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
and fulfillment,

the long tapers
of cattails
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders

of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is

nameless now.
Every year
I have ever learned

in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side

is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.

~ Mary Oliver ~ 


  1. From the first four lines, until the bottom of the poem, I was thinking "Mary Oliver." I've got two or three volumes of her poems and she amazes me. Her works are simple, but profound and always leave me feeling like I have been wrapped in a cloak of light.

  2. Bonnie,
    'The black river of loss' is a powerful, chilling image. I did not know of Mary Oliver, but I think you have posted poems of hers previously.
    Like many women, my greatest fear is of losing one of those who I love the most - my children. I wonder if I would ever be able to accept the third of Mary's exhortations.
    Despite its sadness, this is a beautiful poem.

  3. Bonnie, I love that you are another poetry maniac!

    three things: to love, to hold, to let go. So simple but how hard to do.

    I can't get your baby feet post, something's wrong with the link.

  4. Three very hard things to live by...especially the last one..letting go. The first two are so easy so to speak. But letting go would not have its meaning if we didn't love and hold. Great poem!
    Happy New Year! Hope you're staying warm ;)


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