Mary Oliver’s poem Wild Geese has been on my mind a lot of late. If you aren’t familiar with it, you can read it here – http://www.phys.unm.edu/~tw/fas/yits/archive/oliver_wildgeese.html
We have to be good
Mary Oliver was wrong
And it breaks my heart to say so.
We do have to be good.
This year demands that we
Each, alone and whimpering walk
The hundred miles upon our knees
Take the impossible, body breaking
Journey without the solace of so much
We held dear – there can be
No holding. Our soft animal bodies
Are so fragile, and those we love
So vulnerable and a hundred miles
Of knee shredding repenting will not
Save us, necessarily. Will not
Save the ones we love most.
What would you tell me of despair
Today, Mary? What would your
World loving words reveal as we
Shuffle fearful, onwards, praying
But not daring to hope.
And all the while, the wild places
Are forbidden to us and we
Must not let our soft animal bodies
Love too closely and the hundred miles
Is so far, so hard, it seems
Unthinkable to cross the distance
In the way we must.
Carry what you can, be it grief
Or fear, the names of those lost
The bitterness and anger for this waste
Of life, for these months we shall
Never have again, for the dreams
Left bloody in the wake of our crawling
For all that is gone, will never be.
Carry what you can.
Weep when you must, but do this
Terrible thing, too far beyond my reach
For comfort, knowing our bodies lack
For innocence, that we may yet be
The death of each other.
A hundred miles on your knees, repenting
There is a far side to this torment
And I believe, with all my aching heart
That some of you will reach this place
Of respite and healing.
If I do not meet you there
Remember me fondly, remember the best of me
And forgive what you can of the rest.
If I can crawl to the far side of this
I will bring you my open arms
I will soak your cheek, your shoulder
With the glad excess of my tears.
Hold fast as thought I never mean
To let go again. Kiss, if you
Will permit it, love with whatever
Raw remnants of self I have.
When we do not have to be good,
I hope to find you.
(This originally went out on my Patreon account, should you feel so moved https://www.patreon.com/NimueB )