“In the fields
we let them have- in the fields we don’t want yet-
where thistles rise
out of the marshlands of spring, and spring open- each bud a settlement of riches-
a coin of reddish fire-
the finches wait for midsummer, for the long days,
for the brass heat,
for the seeds to begin to form in the hardening thistles, dazzling as the teeth of mice, but black,
filling the face of every flower.
Then they drop from the sky. A buttery gold, they swing on the thistles, they gather
the silvery down, they carry it
in their finchy beaks to the edges of the fields, to the trees,
as though their minds were on fire
with the flower of one perfect idea- and there they build their nests and lay their pale-blue eggs,
and every year the hatchlings wake in the swaying branches, in the silver baskets,
and love the world.
Is it necessary to say any more? Have you heard them singing in the wind, above the final fields? Have you ever been so happy in your life?”
~ Mary Oliver.
Photo by Richard Fogg
“What’s that you’re doing?” whispers the wind, pausing
in a heap just outside the window.
Give me a little time, I say back to its staring, silver face.
It doesn’t happen all of a sudden, you know.
“Doesn’t it?” says the wind, and breaks open,
releasing distillation of blue iris.
And my heart panics not to be, as I long to be,
the empty, waiting, pure, speechless receptacle.
~ Mary Oliver.
Pas de deux by Richard Fogg
is the long-necked, long-bodied heron,
always it is a surprise
when her smoke-colored wings
and she turns
from the thick water,
from the black sticks
of the summer pond,
rises into the air
and is gone.
Then, not for the first or the last time,
I take the deep breath
of happiness, and I think
how unlikely it is
that death is a hole in the ground,
that ascension is not possible,
though everything seems so inert, so nailed
back into itself–
the muskrat and his lumpy lodge,
the fallen gate.
And especially it is wonderful
that the summers are long
and the ponds so dark and so many,
and therefore it isn’t a miracle
but the common thing,
this trailing of the long legs in the water,
this opening up of the heavy body
into a new life: see how the sudden
gray-blue sheets of her wings
strive toward the wind; see how the clasp of nothing
takes her in.
Photo by Richard Fogg.
Poem by Mary Oliver:
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 your 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.