Mary Oliver is dazzled by heaven


So I got up finally, with a grief worthy of you, and went home.

mary walks 

Just days over
the threshold she
cannot move quickly
or carefully

Oh, what is that beautiful thing
that just happened?

on ageless legs the
last word she heard
with mortal ears
still sounding:


The angels themselves weary
of our meanness the smallness
of our gaze clouding
the crystalline ether.

beyond time’s brittle drift,
I stood like Adam in his lonely garden
On that first morning, shaken out of sleep,
Rubbing his eyes, listening, parting the leaves,
Like tissue on some vast, incredible gift. 

She tucks pencils in
eternity’s crevices, Dixon
Ticonderoga, Blick No. 2 ready
for the sharp and supple senses that saw so clearly
the egret, the white froth of her shoulders,
and the white scrolls of her belly,
and the white flame of her head,
that heard acutely
the enormous waterfalls of the sun, that knew:

each pond with its blazing lilies
is a prayer heard and answered
lavishly, every morning.

Ready, even here

to record her quiet amazement
washing clean the tired air
restoring the angels,
reminding them:

So every day
I was surrounded by the beautiful crying forth
of the ideas of God,
one of which was you.


oliver feat


Italicized lines taken from poems by Mary Oliver.



  1. 1housemouse · · Reply

    well done


    1. Thank you.


  2. wildchild47 · · Reply

    you’ve created a wonderful cento – a most fine and apt tribute to the woman herself; she always struck me as being full of grace – and I like the thought of her tucking pencils of all sorts into the nooks and crevices, in the heavens —


    1. Yes, apparently she tucked pencils along the paths she wandered, in case a poem — or piece of one, or some possibility — suddenly arose. Thanks so much for reading and appreciating!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Cate, this is wonderful – you channel Mary Oliver well. Oh, that we could see after-life through her lens – to have the details pointed out, applauded – to embrace assurances of more, ever more, to come.


    1. Thanks so much. It made me happy to imagine her continuing to see and appreciate in the non-mortal realm. We’ll sure miss her here.


  4. A beautiful tribute to Mary Oliver. And in my opinion, a tribute absolutely worthy of her gift to us.
    Thank you for introducing m – and others I am sure – to her.


    1. Thank you, Rafiki. I’m glad to introduce others to her remarkable work, as I was glad to be introduced many years ago.


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