For Mary Oliver

by Hilary Horn

By Jenneth Graser

Last week being 17 January 2019 and also my birthday, I was drawn to a particular picture quote to post to Mystic Prayers (a Facebook community I manage).  A man walks along a street, his breath hangs in the frosty air. Everything looks so ordinary, the passing of life in the living of it. But the sun is catching his breath in such a way that it makes the spiritual world look visible.  And the quote attached to this picture? “Sometimes I need only to stand wherever I am to be blessed”.

I did not know it would be the day my favourite poet mentor Mary Oliver would pass away.  And that it would be her words accompanying me yesterday like a benediction. I feel it was a farewell message from this beautiful woman for all of us, that it is precisely where we stand at the present moment that we will find the breath of God, breathing in and through us. Today, not another day. Now, not some time in the future when everything is perfect.

Last year my husband Karl gifted me with her compilation of poetry “Devotions” for my birthday. This year on my birthday she left her heart’s wisdom with me and I will always remember.

I wrote a poem ~ For Mary Oliver ~ who leaves with us a legacy of love in words and who will always speak long after she has now passed through gates of glory.


~ For Mary Oliver ~

You teach us to be still,
to walk unadorned with the trees
in the silence of friendship.

To stop and watch with eyes
wide awake, open to see.

You teach us to listen
to every small and living thing
made glorious through observation.

You teach us the thrill
of the rhythmic beating of our hearts
in our chests

telling us every day
I am alive, I am alive.

You teach us that death
is a mere walking through
with the companions like stars you have made

now known to you,
like words on a page
that bloom before our very eyes.

Flowers scatter on a grave…
and how the wind takes the seeds
to the light, to the light!


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