Looking, arms open

I’ve been reading Why I Wake Early, a book of new poems by Mary Oliver, though reading isn’t quite the right word for poems. It’s more like listening — like listening to music, and going back to listen again. There’s so much happiness in Oliver’s writing, such close and startling observation, and then plain-talk expression of it. This fragment from “Where Does the Temple Begin, Where Does it End?” describes her stance toward the world:

I look; morning to night I am never done with looking.

Looking I mean not just standing around, but standing around
as though with your arms open.

Yesterday our daughter sent the photograph below, taken while snowshoeing on Mt. Seymour (B.C.) the day before, and it seemed, even at a photo’s remove, one of those places for long, arms-open looking. No the sun isn’t shining, but it’s the trees that matter, so lean they are and lovely, bearing all the snow they can bear, dressed up for the Christmas party. Can’t you just see them at night, swaying a little in praise? 

In another fragment of the same poem, Mary Oliver says,

And now I will tell you the truth.
Everything in the world

At least, closer.

And, cordially.

So if we do our part, open our arms, we’ll be met halfway.

(If you’re interested, here’s a place to read Mary Oliver’s poetry online and here’s her Wiki-bio.)

Photo by C. Dueck. (Thanks!)

3 thoughts on “Looking, arms open

  1. I love your description of the trees, Dora. You seem to have passed along your sensitivity to nature’s beauty to your daughter. Mary Oliver teaches all of us to open our arms to wind, sky, snow, sun, grass, critters, and clouds. Other concerns fade a little or a lot when we learn to do this. There’s a special Christmas dance with nature that you captured here in your own simple, elegant, poetic prose.

  2. “…so lean they are and lovely…” Oh Dora, how divinely put.
    I’m thrilled to know there’s another Mary Oliver book out in the world. I just love the way she brings everything to its essential beauty. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Thanks Shirley and Colleen, for your comments, both of you Mary Oliver fans. I don’t know how it is, though having known her name, I’ve taken this long to come to her poetry. Yes, it’s recent for me — and t’was a convergence of pushes, including earlier comments of yours — and I’m falling in with an amazement you already understand.

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