Wednesday, July 31, 2013

quite beautiful myself

Yesterday took a little break with Chloe and went to our local bookstore which happens to be a Chapters. I picked up Mary Oliver's A Thousand Mornings. (On the recommended shelf above). Oh, I know, a so-called serious poet isn't supposed to like Oliver's work. We're to disdain anything so simple, so popular. Recently I've heard people saying similar about Jane Hirshfield. I don't suppose I care to be a serious poet, then. Maybe I'm a strange reader then, because I have value for Hirshfield and Oliver, and also Anne Carson, Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge, etc. for example. I try to read as widely as possible, really, in poetry. I've read my fair share of the dead white male poets. I try to read international poets as much as possible. Experimental poets, spiritual poets, American poets, Canadian ones. Why limit oneself? Isn't it strange that I even feel the need to say all of this?

I opened the Oliver book in the store. Read the following poem. It spoke to me, and reading the poem, for a second I felt as she did in the poem, at the end. And that feeling can be so rare. 

Poem of the One World 

by Mary Oliver 

This morning 
the beautiful white heron 
was floating along above the water 

and then into the sky of this 
the one world 
we all belong to 

where everything 
sooner or later 
is a part of everything else

which thought made me feel 
for a little while 
quite beautiful myself.

We seek out beauty, we wait for it, we open ourselves to it. Some of us try to create it so that others can experience it, as well. I know that I want to feel part of the world, the beauty of the world, I want to feel elegant, like the heron Oliver describes. 

When I take photographs of the poppies, I want to capture their elegance, their fragility, strength, their beauty. How fleeting they are. And how they live, radiant, brief, fully, catching every bit of light available.

At the beginning of the gardening season, I took a packet of poppy seeds and planted them in a terra cotta pot. And here they are, they've arrived. Along with the sunflowers I planted at the same time. 

I love the zinnias because of the way they age. They grow more vibrant, showy, and have greater expression as they wind down.

The day lilies catch the evening light so beautifully, through the slats in the fence.

It's only now at the very end of July that the little garden in the corner of my small yard is coming alive. Or maybe it's only now that I've been noticing the way the sun eases through the slats in the fence.

It's the time to appreciate evening light, now that the days are shorter, and it already feels like summer is on the wane. Tomorrow will be the first of August, which is always a signal to drink more deeply of summer, of all the delights of the season. This is where we remember that in 2 months, there could be snow. (I'm sorry to say this, but it's true....).


  1. So wonderful. And I too adore Oliver, didn't know I shouldn't. So rich the poppies, the zinnias, the light through slats, the light in your portraits, as we move toward the blue light. Wonderful, Shawna.

  2. Thanks, Stephen. Mary Oliver is a wonder, so far as I'm concerned.


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