Wednesday, 15 April 2015

When Death Comes – A Poem by Mary Oliver

On my way back from Uganda now after a fantastic and very hot time. It was also a serious struggle with tropical intestinal parasites and a boda-boda (motorcycle) accident - wherein I somehow forgot my Aikido roll, which had saved me in past accidents, and landed poorly on my elbow. - The german doctors have me patched up now but all of this leads me to the clear realization that this body is impermanent. 

I am therefore revisiting one of Mary Oliver's poems that used to be pinned to my dorm room door at Sterling College in Vermont.  

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps his purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox;

when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering;
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth
tending as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.

When it's over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was a bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it's over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened
or full of argument.

I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.

~ Mary Oliver ~
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