Something/ that more or less/ kills me/ with delight

Last week, I was emailing with a friend– she was having a hard time, and I sent her this poem.  I was minded of it again this morning, on my drive back from the Trader Joe’s, as I was picking up a housewarming gift for our hosts for a weekend away.

Mary Oliver’s “Mindful”, from Why I Wake Early

Every day
I see or hear
that more or less

kills me
with delight,
that leaves me
like a needle

in the haystack
of light
It was what I was born for–
to look, to listen,

to lose myself
inside this soft world–
to instruct myself
over and over

in joy
and acclamation.
Nor am I talking
about the exceptional,

the fearful, the dreadful,
the very extravagant–
but of the ordinary,
the common, the very drab,

the daily presentations.
Oh, good scholar,
I say to myself,
how can you help

but grow wise
with such teachings
as these–
the untrimmable light

of the world,
the ocean’s shine,
the prayers that are made
out of grass?

There was a motor scooter behind me in traffic, ridden by a man in a dark plaid shirt and khakis.  He had on a helmet, wore loafer-like shoes.  They were Clarks or Merrells or something sensible– practical– comfortable.  He was headed toward Boston’s medical area, and could have been anything, anyone.  A doctor, an admin, the person who cures cancer or diabetes or just keeps your medical records in order.  As the lights cycled and changed, he came up on my right, then pulled to the left and in front of me.

On the back of his helmet he bore a prayer made out of grass, the thing that killed me with delight. He’d decorated his sensible, full-headed helmet, complete with a visor, with the following sticker:


One thought on “Something/ that more or less/ kills me/ with delight

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