Poems say it

I do not know which pond was Mary Oliver's. This in near Champlin Farm, Block Island
Where is the Blackwater Pond? This is near Champlin Farm, Block Island

I have not been blogging much

Trying to write some confused confusing thoughts

Read some of my favourite poetry instead

Find it is said quite well

Mornings at Blackwater

by Mary Oliver

For years, every morning, I drank
from Blackwater Pond.
It was flavored with oak leaves and also, no doubt,
the feet of ducks.

And always it assuaged me
from the dry bowl of the very far past.

What I want to say is
that the past is the past,
and the present is what your life is,
and you are capable
of choosing what that will be,
darling citizen.

So come to the pond,
or the river of your imagination,
or the harbor of your longing,

and put your lips to the world.
And live
your life.

(everyone buy Mary Oliver’s amazing book, Red Bird.)

and what was confusing about my thoughts – so much unwellness and distress in the world beyond my understanding

George Square

George Square in Glasgow on a stormy day
George Square in Glasgow on a stormy day (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

by Jackie Kay

My seventy-seven-year-old father
put his reading glasses on
to help my mother do the buttons
on the back of her dress.
‘What a pair the two of us are!’
my mother said, ‘Me with my sore wrist,
you with your bad eyes, your soft thumbs!’

And off they went, my two parents
to march against the war in Iraq,
him with his plastic hips. Her with her arthritis,
waved at each other like old friends, flapping,
where they’d met for so many marches over their years,
for peace on earth, for pity’s sake, for peace, for peace.

from Life Mask (Bloodaxe, 2005)

How I love Mary Oliver’s “darling citizen” ! That is all of us, all over this world, trying, trying to live the contradiction in our hearts:

stay safe and stay alive… (listen only to the Rules, the Religion, the Right Way, the way we learnt in our past)

stay true and learn to live… (open your heart to the present, not-knowing what will come next, )

You are capable of choosing darling citizen, of Syria, of Mali, of Pakistan, of Afghanistan, of USA, of UK of anywhere. Choose words, to talk to listen, to argue, to stand up for the weak, to care. To blog? [Remember – the risk of death is just sitting there waiting for you in both choices so it is not really relevant to the way you choose to live.]


8 thoughts on “Poems say it

  1. ‘true soundings’ Elspethc, those sonar pings far reaching, I am inspired. Thank you. All the strings pulled, then neatly tied together.

    Red Bird, I will find. Your endorsement or call of arms reason enough, then I read this:

    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.


    1. There is another poem somewhere in your comment – I am heartened by ‘true soundings’ especially from you, as I have gathered you look out for the authentic response. It is good to remember we do not have to be good, loving will do.


  2. I’ve come back to this post several times. The poetry is familiar, but always powerful. Your thoughts, the challenges to us ‘darling citizens’ all, are clear!
    Thanks, Elspeth


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