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Mary Oliver

January 17, 2019

Normally I reserve this blog for original poetry.  But today is different.  The poet of my heart, Mary Oliver, died today.  As a remembrance of her delicate, provocative, and powerful words, here is one of my favorite: Peonies.   (photo credit: Chandra Sherin,  




by Mary Oliver


This morning the green fists of the peonies are getting ready

            to break my heart

                        as the sun rises,

                                    as the sun strokes them with his old, buttery fingers


and they open –

            pools of lace,

                        white and pink –

                                    and all day the black ants climb over them,


boring their deep and mysterious holes

            into the curls,

                        craving the sweet sap,

                                    taking it away


to their dark, underground cities –

            and all day

                        under the shifty wind,

                                    as in a dance to the great wedding,



the flowers bend their bright bodies,

            and tip their fragrance to the air,

                        and rise,

                                    their red stems holding


all that dampness and recklessness

            gladly and lightly,

                        and there it is again –

                                    beauty the brave, the exemplary,


blazing open.

            Do you love this world?

                        Do you cherish your humble and silky life?

                                    Do you adore the green grass, with its terror beneath?


Do you also hurry, half-dressed and barefoot, into the garden,

            and softly,

                        and exclaiming the dearness,

                                    fill your arms with the white and pink flowers,


with their honeyed heaviness, their lush trembling,

            their eagerness

                        to be wild and perfect for a moment, before they are

                                    nothing, forever?


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