I haven’t read much poetry in the past few months. The summer came in as a blazing crackly bull dozer, hot and starchy and temporarily disabled my writing and reading drive, leaving me in a lazy funk. It was long days at work, late nights of Netflix, and lots of weekend travelling to here and there. By the time September came I was exhausted from all the road trips and the heat that I begged for the coldest fall ever. Now it’s October 31, and finally the cold has swept in and I can feel my heart beat again. There is a brisk in my step and I am feeling alive, and I proclaim these are my months- October, November, all the way to the first week of March; I love the cold, I love the color, bless me with fall and bring me to the dead of winter.
Now that the season has agreed with my big heart, I am reading again and have been on the hunt for some new poetry. I came across Mary Oliver’s new poetry book “Felicity” in the bookstore the other day. I sat down in the children’s section and started reading the poems aloud to my love, page by page. My voice grew softer as the poems pulled me into their world and arrested my feelings and stopped my thoughts.
“This is really good,” I said to myself.
It’s been so long since I read a good poem that it was a bit emotional to understand and be understood by Oliver’s delicate, yet wild words. I instantly felt a connection to her, which rarely happens to me with poets. But here I am, reading through her poems and I come back to the first page with “Don’t Worry,” and I read the words over and over.
Things take the time they take. Don’t
How many roads did St. Augustine follow
before he became St. Augustine?
We can experience words many different ways. Sometimes you read poems and think it was nice, other times you read them and you don’t know what the heck is going on, then there are times you read a poem like Oliver’s and it hits you where the sore is fresh.
I’m always fussing about my path. Sometimes I feel like I have direction, but more often I am so, so confused about where I’m going. I question and I wait and I wonder and stop wondering and I do everything in between. I have a thousand bags of milk in my left hand and thousand bags of apples in my right, and many times it feels like I am dragging them around, looking for somewhere to lay it down, trying to figure out how it will all work, how does it make sense, what should I let go of, if there is anything to let go. And other times I want to give up and not do anything.
But then I come across a poem like this, Don’t Worry, and it resonates with the struggle inside. And it wraps its arms around me and sings of my burdens without me having to open my mouth, and it tells me it will be okay and somehow gives me hope that perhaps I am on the right path and maybe I need to trust that it will all work out the way it should.
Then I wipe a little tear and I close the book and I buy it.
I think to myself, man, It’s a wonder what words can do.
What can they do for you?