favorites, Life Talk, seasons

Worm Moon

Tonight is March’s full moon, known as the worm moon, and in its honor I am posting the poem of that same name by Mary Oliver.

Worm Moon – Mary Oliver

1

In March the earth remembers its own name.

Everywhere the plates of snow are cracking.

The rivers begin to sing. In the sky

the winter stars are sliding away; new stars

appear as, later, small blades of grain

will shine in the dark fields.

And the name of every place

is joyful.

2

The season of curiosity is everlasting

and the hour for adventure never ends,

but tonight

even the men who walked upon the moon

are lying content

by open windows

where the winds are sweeping over the fields,

over water,

over the naked earth,

into villages, and lonely country houses, and the vast cities

3

because it is spring;

because once more the moon and the earth are eloping –

a love match that will bring forth fantastic children

who will learn to stand, walk, and finally run

    over the surface of earth;

who will believe, for years,

that everything is possible.

4

Born of clay,

how shall a man be holy;

born of water,

how shall a man visit the stars;

born of the seasons,

how shall a man live forever?

5

Soon

the child of the red-spotted newt, the eft,

will enter his life from the tiny egg.

On his delicate legs

he will run through the valleys of moss

down to the leaf mold by the streams,

where lately white snow lay upon the earth

like a deep and lustrous blanket

of moon-fire,

6

and probably

everything

is possible.

Mary Oliver

The name of every place is joyful. Spring is coming, my friends.

writing

Still

When my soul is all snarled up inside

And I can’t find the end to untangle myself

If I can get away

To find the still water–

The sound of it lapping

Gently against the shore

The calm of the trees

Reflected and rippled back to the sky

The mountains standing sentinel

Ageless and immovable

–If I can find these three combined

Water, tree, and mountain–

And hear the song they weave

The tangle unsnarls itself

I am at rest

With my feet

Dabbling in the water

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Family, Life Talk, philosophy

This Is Not Goodbye

Words are hard, sometimes.

This may seem an odd statement from one who has built her entire life around words, but it is true. The deepest emotions and thoughts, the truest truths, are often too hard to put into words.

This is one reason I love music; it reaches the places words cannot go. And it is what leads me to poetry more and more, the older I get—for poetry is a music of its own, the attempt of wordsmiths to capture things too deep for prose.

My great-aunt died unexpectedly on Sunday. It was a hard blow to everyone—her immediate family, of course, but to the entire extended family and community, as well. She was special, a rare soul in this busy world. When Grandma’s mind became completely clouded by Alzheimer’s, Aunt Ortha quietly stepped in, attending all our—her sister’s grandchildren—major events. “I’m not trying to take her place,” she told me at my bridal shower, “But I’m here because she would be, and can’t be.” She didn’t want us to feel bereft.

And that’s one memory. Her own children and grandchildren can tell so many more. Her church family. The people in the community she served so faithfully. She shed love like a radiance, practical love that saw what it could do and then did it without any fuss.

Her memorial service is today, and I wanted oh, so much, to be there to honor her. But I can’t. It was too short of notice, and we live too far away to make it. My dad, sharing that same quiet, loving wisdom as his aunt had (and indeed, all of Grandma’s family), suggested to me that I write her a poem instead, since I can’t be there.

Poetry is hard, as I’ve bemoaned on Twitter before. But it also satisfies in a way prose cannot. I wrote a poem for my grandfather after his death, and it helped—me in the writing of it, others in the family in the reading. So it was a gift, to myself, to Aunt Ortha, and to the family, to be able to wrestle with these oh-so-inadequate words, and shape them into something that captures the outlines, at least, of what my heart feels.

This Is Not Goodbye

Louise Bates

I will not say goodbye today
Because you are not truly gone
We see your face in so many here
Your heart in even more.
Your smile, your eyes, the family traits
Those you have passed down
But more—and far greater:

Your kindness, your warmth, your wisdom
The way you were first to help
A pair of hands for whatever was needed
A loving heart and listening ear
Your ready laugh and constant smile.

Those have not died, for they are immortal
Living on in the lives of all you touched.
And if they’ve lived on—
Then so have you.
So I will not say goodbye today.
I will smile through the tears
And look for you in the people you loved.