Borrowed Words: Mary Oliver (1935-2019)


I Worried

I worried a lot. Will the garden grow, will the rivers
flow in the right direction, will the earth turn
as it was taught, and if not how shall
I correct it?

Was I right, was I wrong, will I be forgiven,
can I do better?

Will I ever be able to sing, even the sparrows
can do it and I am, well,

Is my eyesight fading or am I just imagining it,
am I going to get rheumatism,
lockjaw, dementia?

Finally I saw that worrying had come to nothing.
And gave it up. And took my old body
and went out into the morning,
and sang.

From Mary Oliver’s Swan: Poems and Prose Poems. One of my favorite poems, by one of my favorite poets. Sadly, Mary passed away this past month, so I’ve been rereading many of the lines that first drew me to her and falling in love all over again. You can find her beautiful New York Times obituary here, and three of her best books (in my opinion!) here, here, and here. Rest in peace, Mary, and thank you for all the magic.