Bone by Mary Oliver

1.

Understand, I am always trying to figure out
what the soul is,
and where hidden,
and what shape
and so, last week,
when I found on the beach
the ear bone
of a pilot whale that may have died
hundreds of years ago, I thought
maybe I was close
to discovering something
for the ear bone

2.

is the portion that lasts longest
in any of us, man or whale; shaped
like a squat spoon
with a pink scoop where
once, in the lively swimmer’s head,
it joined its two sisters
in the house of hearing,
it was only
two inches long
and thought: the soul
might be like this
so hard, so necessary

3.

yet almost nothing.
Beside me
the gray sea
was opening and shutting its wave-doors,
unfolding over and over
its time-ridiculing roar;
I looked but I couldn’t see anything
through its dark-knit glare;
yet don’t we all know, the golden sand
is there at the bottom,
though our eyes have never seen it,
nor can our hands ever catch it

4.

lest we would sift it down
into fractions, and facts
certainties
and what the soul is, also
I believe I will never quite know.
Though I play at the edges of knowing,
truly I know
our part is not knowing,
but looking, and touching, and loving,
which is the way I walked on,
softly,
through the pale-pink morning light.
~Mary Oliver

The Journey

Above the mountains
the geese turn into
the light again,

painting their
black silhouettes
on an open sky.

Sometimes everything
has to be
enscribed across
the heavens

so you can find
the one line
already written
inside you.

Sometimes it takes
a great sky
to find that

first, bright
and indescribable
wedge of freedom
in your own heart.

Sometimes with
the bones of the black
sticks left when the fire
has gone out

someone has written
something new
in the ashes
of your life.

You are not leaving.
Even as the light
fades quickly now,
you are arriving.
~David Whyte

You Must Let Go

After you’ve spent a certain time gleaning in libraries and from the hearts of your neighbors, in order to learn any worthwhile thing at all you must let go. You must relinquish pride in whatever you thinks makes you human. Yes, it is a glory to be human, but it is not infinity, not been the whole of one small blue planet.

You must hike past the end of the road, for while you’re on the road you’re still in control. Adam made it; Adam’s smell pervades it. You must, as Ezekiel says, go up into the gaps. You hike past the farthest points you’ve known before. Of course it is beautiful, but that is not why you go. It may be the first step you’ve ever taken beyond, and if so you are very lucky.

Go hungry if you can.

Deep in winter, after many frosts and snows, I’ve found clusters of wild grapes on the forest floor, cold but edible and sweet. Explain that.
I know, Elisha was fed by ravens. But he saw them coming. He could say, “The ravens fed me.” I don’t know who to thank. Or why.
~David Brendan Hopes

On Poetry

A MIND THAT  is lively and inquiring, compassionate, curious, angry, full of music, full of feeling, is a mind full of possible poetry. Poetry is a life-cherishing force. And it requires a vision—a faith, to use an old-fashioned term. Yes, indeed. For poems are not words, after all, but fires for the cold, ropes let down to the lost, something as necessary as bread in the pockets of the hungry.  Yes, indeed.
~Mary Oliver

I SUPPOSE WHAT MOST people associate with poetry is souls searching for fiercely felt emotions. We expect the poet to be a monger of intensity, to pain for us, to reach into the campfire so that we can linger in the woods and watch without burning ourselves or grubbying our clothes. Then, even if we don’t feel the fire, we can see the poet’s face illuminated by light, hear her flushed chatter, the blazing wood crackle, and imagine well enough what the fire feels like from our safe remove. Though we can’t live at red alert from day-to-day, we expect the poet to, on our behalf, and to share that intensity with us when we’re in the right mood. And if we become frightened or bored, we can simply put the poem back on the shelf. Really, we are asking the poet to live an extravagantly emotional life for us, so we
can add her experiences to our own. Because poets feel what we are afraid to feel, venture where we are reluctant to go, we learn from their journeys without taking the same dramatic risks. We cherish the insights that the poets discover: we’d love to relish the moment and feel the rampant amazement as the seasons unfold. We yearn to explore the subtleties, paradoxes and edges of emotions. We long to see the human condition reveal itself with spellbinding clarity. Think of all the lessons to be learned from deep rapture, danger, tumult, romance, intuition. But it’s far too exhausting to live like this on a daily basis, so we ask artists to feel and explore on our behalf. Daring to take intellectual and emotional chances, poets live on their senses.
Diane Ackerman,
Deep Play

IN THE  HOUSE OF POETRY, nothing remains except that which is written with blood to be listened to by blood.
~Pablo Neruda

Centering

Many have gone mad
looking for a solid center,
but there is none.

We think of centering as
only a continual narrowing of focus
until we touch the pearl
but in practice it is often a
continual expansion of focus
until we become the ocean.

Our center is vast space,
boundless awareness
indistinguishable from unconditional love.
~Stephen Levine

Image courtesy of : The Path of the Mystic

Image and Quote courtesy of:
The Path of the Mystic

Courage

Courage is the price that Life exacts for granting peace,
The soul that knows it not, knows no release
from little things;

Knows not the livid loneliness of fear,
Nor mountain heights where bitter joy can hear
The sound of wings.

How can Life grant us boon of living, compensate
For dull gray ugliness and pregnant hate
Unless we dare

The soul’s dominion? Each time we make a choice, we pay
With courage to behold the restless day,
And count it fair.
~Amelia Earhart

I Have Come To Know

I have come to know simple truths that before were
disguised by my complexity.  I have come to know the inner
vision that sees with much clarity.  I’ve come to know me, the
gentleness of my spirit, as it may express itself through love and
tenderness.  I’ve come to know power in a way that’s personal and
creative.  My personal power of choice.  I’ve come to know love;
love of self and others is the same.  I’ve come to know the oneness
of all who walk the planet in an attempt to journey home.
~Greta Metcalf

Eagle Poem

To pray you open your whole self
To sky, to earth, to sun, to moon
To one whole voice that is you.
And know there is more
That you can’t see, can’t hear
Can’t know except in moments
Steadily growing, and in languages
That aren’t always sound but other
Circles of motion.
Like eagle that Sunday morning
Over Salt River, circled in blue sky
In wind, swept our hearts clean
With sacred wings.
We see you, see ourselves and know
That we must take the utmost care
And kindness in all things.
Breathe in, knowing we are made of
All this, and breathe, knowing
We are truly blessed because we
Were born, and die soon, within a
True circle of motion,
Like eagle rounding out the morning
Inside us.
We pray that it will be done
In beauty
In beauty.
~Joy Harjo