something about Mary, part II

My favorite book by far of 2016 was Mary Oliver's collection of previously published essays, Upstream.  And within its pages, my delight circles back always to "Bird" ~ an essay I made my family sit and listen to as I read and wept (simultaneously) aloud on Christmas Day.  No, they didn't respond to bird's dilemma and sorrow as I did (still do.)  But I have found, once planted, that seeds of beauty have their own latency.  And I'm confident in time "Bird" will come to life for them when needed.  I say this because there was a time when Mary's words left me yawning - all that contemplation of solitude and forest floors ... And now - a feast for my hungry soul who craves space and fallen leaves ...! 

I wish I could post the essay in its entirety here, but it is too lengthy.  On a Christmas day Mary discovers an injured black headed gull during her morning beach walk.  Impulse sees her scooping Bird up and taking him home:  
"And this gull was close to that deep maw; it made no protest when I picked it up, the eyes were half-shut, the body so starved it seemed to hold nothing but air."
 Her writing is lyrical, spare, full of sentiment without lapsing into sentimentality (is that possible??)
"But no matter how hard I try to tell this story, it's not like it was.  He was a small life but elegant, courteous, patient, responsive, as well as very injured."
And this, my favorite passage from "Bird":
"But the rough-and-tumble work of dying was going on, even in the quiet body ... He was, of course, a piece of the sky.  His eyes said so.  This is not fact; this is the other part of knowing something, when there is no proof, but neither is there any way toward disbelief.  Imagine lifting the lid from a jar and finding it filled not with darkness but with light.  Bird was like that.  Startling, elegant, alive." 

And that's how I want to live life:  startling, elegant and alive.


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