Monday, February 1, 2010

A poem in honor of St. Brigid's Day

I'm participating in the great (Silent) Poetry Reading for Brigid! (Here's what I wrote about it last year.)

I typically have a hard time with the dark of winter. I make a point of noting the solstice--the day when it is most dark, but also, technically, it starts to get light out again. And I give thanks every St. Brigid Day (also known as Groundhog Day); that's the day when I can really tell that the dark is subsiding. We've made it halfway to spring!

I probably won't be the only participant posting this poem. I was going to go hunting for something else, but then yesterday, as I was walking to school, a really big flock of geese flew over, honking, heading south. My first thought: isn't it kind of late, guys? My second: oh, I guess I'm supposed to post that poem then. (Signs and Wonders, you know.)

I once saw something unbelievable: on the way to South Dakota, my 2nd trip to the rez with students, we saw thousands and thousands of geese flying. I couldn't even begin to estimate how many there were. They filled the sky for as far as we could see. I've never seen so many animals in one place at one time. It made me cry; I knew that I was witnessing something special.

May you hear their harsh and exciting voices today!

"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.

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