Tag Archives: Wild Geese

We have to be good

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 )