my birthday present

my birthday present
My awesome birthday present 1/26/11 (see story under my first post)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Our First Poem

One or Two Things
                   by Mary Oliver

Don’t bother me.
I’ve just
been born.

The butterfly’s loping flight
carries it through the country of the leaves
delicately, and well enough to get it
where it wants to go, wherever that is, stopping
here and there to fuzzle the damp throats
of flowers and the black mud; up
and down it swings, frenzied and aimless; and sometimes

for long delicious moments it is perfectly
lazy, riding motionless in the breeze on the soft stalk
of some ordinary flower.

The god of dirt
came up to me many times and said
so many wise and delectable things, I lay
on the grass listening
to his dog voice,
crow voice,
frog voice; now,
he said, and now,
and never once mentioned forever,

which has nevertheless always been,
like a sharp iron hoof,
at the center of my mind.

One or two things are all you need
to travel over the blue pond, over the deep
roughage of the trees and through the stiff
flowers of lightning — some deep
memory of pleasure, some cutting
knowledge of pain.

But to lift the hoof!
For that you need
an idea.

For years and years I struggled
just to love my life. And then

the butterfly
rose, weightless, in the wind.
“Don’t love your life
too much,” it said,

and vanished
into the world.

Dreamwork. Atlantic Monthy Press 1986

I love this poem. I told those of you who were at our WS meeting in February that I would choose a  poem by someone other than Mary Oliver....since we had focused entirely on her work that day.  But when I read One or Two Things I knew I needed to share it first. I feel I am speaking the first three lines. Poetry has given me a fresh start. The most powerful section for me is in part 3. I hear Eckhart Tolle (The Power of Now) speaking with the crow and  frog.
The day before my birthday (January 26), the above black swallowtail butterfly,  hatched on my windowsill. We had just gone through temperatures below zero and I have no logical explanation for how this miracle could occur. Her life was short, two days, but it was incredible to watch a butterfly flutter in my kitchen in the dead of winter.This poem is tribute to the butterfly who touched and amazed me with her life on my birthday.


Jo said...

Okay, Pam, it's a good poem, despite the title. It's too noncommital. Oliver is tricky here, too, pretending to talk about one subject but addressing another. In other words, the poem again here is more about death than life. It's bittersweet, even sad. There may even be a little dose of despair, for I am not sure she's envisionning anything beyond death. She enjoys ambiguity, complexity within the simplicity of the language. But there is also something finite in her verses, as if she were saying, "This is my bulb, my creation, I am content with it, I'll stick to it."

Voilà for my view this week.

A question: Mary Oliver is fine. But are you considering posting other poets?

Loretta said...

"Don't bother me" is my favorite phrase.

kelly.chadwick said...

As I read this poem, part 5 is what caught my attention.
What came to my mind was this. . . this is what I hope it is like when crossing over to the other side. A gentle ride in the breeze overlooking the beautiful blue water of the pond, swooping over the trees and wishing I could take a bouquet of flowers with me.

I also would be remembering all the wonderful people that I have met over the years and all my wonderful memories that I am taking with me. And leaving all the not so good ones behind!

What a cool way to continue on the journey, with a big smile on my face!