Yesterday it felt like all the mercury retrograde hit me at one time — bracelets broke, folders spilled all over the back of the car when I was trying to get to work early, items got misplaced and were unfindable, and at my primary work gig, I found myself feeling deeply out of place and on the wrong path entirely.
Mostly I manged to stay in a decent mood, going with the rather ragged (at least to this conscious brain) flow — there have been plenty of bad days, bad mood days, sad days recently, and I didn’t want to have another one. Still, by day’s end, I felt in need of a deep spiritual chiropractic adjustment. I was all achy inside, weird and out of sorts. I had a mostly non-dinner, started watching old monty python sketches on youtube, walked to the laundromat for quarters so I could do laundry, then turned on the tv to distract myself even further.
I watched tv for maybe 7 minutes then went into the bathroom to do manicure-ish things, turned on the radio which was tuned to KQED, and a voice was saying, “I have to read the old ones first because people seem to want me to …” and a little more and then the voice was reading “Wild Geese.” It was Mary Oliver, reading her own work, and I turned and rested against the sink and just listened. I let myself cry, get into the rhythm and the possibility of poetry, and was thankful.
Listening to the pieces in her own voice, listening to the words flow with the rhythm into which they’d been intended to flow, hearing what was the same and different than how I might read myself. My mascara kind of racooned around my eyes further than is usual for me at day’s end, but now it looked like something proper — the mess of possibility.
The laundry got done, I fed myself something more like dinner, and Mary Oliver’s poetry reminded me who I am when all my parts are in the right places.
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 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.
from Dream Work by Mary Oliver
published by Atlantic Monthly Press