Tuesday, November 27

Wild Geese (after Mary Oliver)

You do not have to be good
Copyright© 2007 by Maureen Shaughnessy

I have posted the poem, Wild Geese before, on Raven's Nest and Land of Little Rain. It's worth posting again (and again.) Everytime I read this poem, I come at it from a different angle, as a different person.

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting--
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

-- © by Mary Oliver.

Oliver's latest collection of poems, Our World, is a collaboration between Mary and her late partner, Molly Malone Cook, who made the photographs accompanying the poems. Molly died in 2005.

Another exquisite book of Oliver's poems, Thirst, touches her experiences with grief and spiritual growth after Molly's death. I read these poems often -- Mary Oliver's sense of faith and connection have helped me personally through times of great sorrow.

I made the digital painting above, using my own images and two from Liz Saunders, of Alberta.

Her photos:

Snow Geese flying up from a lake

Canada Geese, blue sky