The Poet with His Face in His Hands by Mary Oliver

Irrational fit of anger. I have a temper, I know that. I try to curb it often, because I know how to drive people away. I can say very cruel things at the heat of the moment, but the difference between me and those who are kind is that I do mean them. Days after I still mean them. It’s not a pretty sight, and it’s a side of me that I am not altogether proud of. But the beast exists. All precautions must be made in order to keep it hidden, because it cannot be tamed.

Tonight I have been unsuccessful. It has reared its ugly head. The anger has been brewing for a few days now. I felt its current under my skin. I should’ve seen it coming. I thought I had it under control. All that rage. Now my heart is pounding in my chest; the beast is heaving, breathing hard. I didn’t have the most eloquent of words but I didn’t let that stop me, did I. Nobody won the argument. I’m not always looking for victory. Sometimes I just want to hurt. Sometimes I’m just spoiling for a fight. I think I got it tonight, though I was surprised at the ferocity and how quickly things progressed. It’s disgusting. I’m disgusting. When poems talk about people who are difficult to love, is this what they meant?

The Poet with His Face in His Hands
Mary Oliver

You want to cry aloud for your
mistakes. But to tell the truth the world
doesn’t need anymore of that sound.

So if you’re going to do it and can’t
stop yourself, if your pretty mouth can’t
hold it in, at least go by yourself across

the forty fields and the forty dark inclines
of rocks and water to the place where
the falls are flinging out their white sheets

like crazy, and there is a cave behind all that
jubilation and water fun and you can
stand there, under it, and roar all you

want and nothing will be disturbed; you can
drip with despair all afternoon and still,
on a green branch, its wings just lightly touched

by the passing foil of the water, the thrush,
puffing out its spotted breast, will sing
of the perfect, stone-hard beauty of everything.

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