Poppies by Mary Oliver

Of course it had to be a big, black sea, and of course I didn’t know how to swim. It was the pending inevitable. Of course it had to happen in media res—there I was, with my life, with all my plans—and suddenly I was drowning. As if I was all my life walking backwards and didn’t know that I was at the edge until I had slipped and fallen.

I suppose it was a form of dying, those last few months. We all die a little each day, I know. But all those days—I wanted to be there, in the deep wave, in the drowning where no light comes.

But light did come.

Poppies
Mary Oliver

The poppies send up their
orange flares; swaying
in the wind, their congregations
are a levitation

of bright dust, of thin
and lacy leaves.
There isn’t a place
in this world that doesn’t

sooner or later drown
in the indigos of darkness,
but now, for a while,
the roughage

shines like a miracle
as it floats above everything
with its yellow hair.
Of course nothing stops the cold,

black, curved blade
from hooking forward—
of course
loss is the great lesson.

But I also say this: that light
is an invitation
to happiness,
and that happiness,

when it’s done right,
is a kind of holiness,
palpable and redemptive.
Inside the bright fields,

touched by their rough and spongy gold,
I am washed and washed
in the river
of earthly delight—

and what are you going to do—
what can you do
about it—
deep, blue night?

3 Comments

  1. Deep blue night and redemptive light are just realities of the same thing. Both can be beautiful. One can say one is the antipode of the other. Elsewhere, we are still in an area that have levels of both. Most people probably choose being in the center.

  2. Of course I faithfully followed your Introduction into its/my darkness. But Poppies magically pulled me out into the light and left me wearing my wings. Thrilled to see it had even more power over me than darknes..

    So what are you going to do about it, deep, blue night?

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