Wild Geese 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.

(What) Beauty is

Found this on (yet again) Tamarack Song’s blog Mongrel Scratchings:

I just read about a man who had a flower garden that he continually improved by pulling out the plain-looking specimens and throwing them in the garbage. One day while he was out walking, he passed by a flower garden more beautiful than is. Wracked with jealousy, he asked the gardener were she got her plants. She told him she was his garbage collector.

There’s more to the post that is very worth reading, but the power and the accuracy of these words are so overwhelming that I needed to share it.

The best true story on beauty I’ve ever heard

Posted from Tamarack Song’s new blog.

The small size of villages means that girls approaching puberty have few, if any, peers to compare themselves to. Thus they do not develop to maturity in a context of intense comparison and competition. Each young girl is likely to be the center of attention for a number of years. As a girl begins to mature, the men of the village offer running commentaries on the changes in her body—obvious in a culture where the breasts are not covered—and joke about wanting to marry her or to run away with her. It is unlikely that the attention will have to be shared.

This experience seems to inspire self-esteem, as shown in the following sharing I had with a twelve-year-old girl. Her breasts were just starting to develop, and I saw her admiring herself. She was a lovely girl, although not outstanding in any way except by being in the full health and beauty of youth. She saw me watching. I teased in the !Kung manner I had by then thoroughly learned, “So ugly! How is such a young girl already so ugly?” She laughed. I asked, “You don’t agree?” She beamed, “No, not at all. I’m beautiful!” I said, “Beautiful? Perhaps my eyes have become broken with age that I can’t see where it is?” She said, “Everywhere—my face, my body. There’s no ugliness at all.” These remarks were said easily, with a broad smile, but without arrogance. The pleasure she felt in her changing body was as evident as the absence of conflict about it.

From pages 269-70 of Nisa, The Life and Words of a !Kung Woman (NY: Random House, 1983) by Marjorie Shostak.

a touch of heat

i come here to write and only
i don't really know why
but sometimes there is a feeling
deep in the pit of my gut

and what results when i put finger to key
or pen to page
is simply some approximation of greatness
just a sliver, a hair, a microscopic granular
diamond...


it's moments like these that have me wonder
if we really are the image of God-
but a fingerprint, a shape,
a chemi-coded, oil outline
of three dimensions...


a touch of heat in the darkness of space

the closer i get (no end and no beginning)

i look at you from
      across     the room
because it is
	     easy

everything is perfect from
far away
but the closer i get
the less

i can pick out those ugly things
i imagine
        for

when you walk out of this room
		(my mind)

can find a peace

which will substitute for the fear
of your freedom to leave
and i'll hold a love with no end
                 and
no beginning.

the mystery of what i see

i don’t know if i’m attracted
to the mystery
of what i see
or don’t

but there is something about
the things i know about you
and the beautiful

spaces between those things
like distant stars
that close up blind me
but from a distance
make sense and shapes
and stories

and i’m a dozen little children
robed in fur
whispering in each other’s ears,
guessing and gossiping:

under the spell
of the nightsky
magic.