I met Mary Oliver the other day,
next to Starbucks in that store
where softcovers surely number
well into the mid-to-high six digits.
Ours was a chance encounter,
as neither of us would travel in
any of the same circles and my
disparate world is far from hers.
There was no particular reason
I should pause on my worn path
to "Real Estate," the Journal
tucked too close to my heart.
Not sure why I selected her book
or stayed like I usually don't:
life seems capricious that way,
or in this case, perhaps just
proof of a merciful God
who knew I had forgotten
the frog’s slide off a lily pad
and the quiet undulating ripple
his first stroke made that day
near a content summer bank
of my parents’ old mill pond
or that 12-year old’s simple joy
under a clear crystalline night
setting up his new telescope and
peering into the splendor of heaven,
all that lost time not knowing
or frankly even caring, exactly
how many light years exist
between us and Sirius.
And as I slowly turned her pages
she loaned me her prism to see
anew wild geese and goldenrod,
egrets and forgotten war heroes and
the truth of holding on and letting go,
when deep down this delightful tingle
fluttered up quite unexpectedly
before the corners of my mouth
turned up in a smile I could not stop
Someday, I’d like to meet Ms. Oliver
to thank her for so many generous gifts.
In the meantime, I will very carefully,
but probably clumsily, untie the ribbons
of each precious poem not wanting
to be certain of its content too soon.