Monday, August 16, 2010

Shaken by the Strangeness

I know, I've been a rather pathetic blogger as of late. Today? I'd just like to offer you a little gem by Mary Oliver. I recently borrowed her collections Dream Work and American Primitive from the library and enjoyed both collections, although, admittedly Oliver failed to engross me. Today's poem is my favorite from American Primitive.
by Mary Oliver

on a plane,
you see a stranger.
He is so beautiful!
His nose
Going down in the
old Greek way,
or his smile
a wild Mexican fiesta.
You want to say:
do you know how beautiful you are?
You leap up
into the aisle,
you can't let him go
until he has touched you
shyly, until you have rubbed him,
oh, lightly,
like a coin
you find on the earth somewhere
shining and unexpected and,
without thinking,
reach for. You stand there
by the strangeness,
the splash of his touch.
When he's gone
you stare like an animal into
the blinding clouds
with the snapped chain of your life,
the life you know:
the deeply affectionate earth,
the familiar landscapes
slowly turning
thousands of feet below.
One interesting fact about Mary Oliver is that, as a teenager, she spent time in the home of Edna St. Vincent Millay (possibly my favorite female poet), helping the family sort out papers of Millay. This little connection strikes me as oddly wonderful. 

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