Friday, August 13, 2010

Climbing Pinnacle

It is only a small mountain

as mountains go,

too stubby for any map.

But still, in my boots,

I climbed and climbed until at last there was nothing

but the blue sky

and a single final pasture

and a few not-very -tall trees-

and from under these came running

a fawn on its tumbly legs,

the sound of its wanting falling

from its pink, pursed mouth.

But I knew the rule:

Don't touch it, or the doe

might never come back!

So what could I do? It almost

reached me

before I slung myself into a tree.

And there I was

higher even than the mountain,

perched for hours

while beauty held me tightly...

I didn't move

until the doe came back,

angry and snorting

and she and the fawn tiptoed away.

And so I was free.

And there was nothing to do,

as there is never anything to do,

after rapture,

but to swing down

bough after bough-

to hurry down, field after field,

through the pale twilight,

to be greeted by the people

who loved me, far below.

I read recently in a book about wildlife that humans evolved to focus on wildlife - either responding in fear or awe. We did so because we needed to run away or to hunt, so it behooves us to be caught up in other life. Perhaps also we evolved to be caught by wildlife so that we might cooperate - paying attention to life helps life. For instance, in this same book, "Who Cares About Wildlife," there are studies that show it is nearly impossible to keep people from feeding the wildlife. The authors suggest that we evolved to care for wildlife.

Mary in the tree is our wild heart - caring, hunting, and fearing. She, like us, is caught by our evolved natures. She, like us, is also freed by our evolved natures and our intention. For we may constantly strive to remember that there is never anything better to do than to be in rapture and to love and to be loved. We can bring ourselves into this possibility by climbing each our own kind of mountain, be it small or looming impossibly high. With the sun squeaking through my back yard pines, oaks, and magnolias I set my sight on climbing this day so that I, by day's end, may greet the sunset with love.

What mountain do you climb?


  1. The mountain of my lifetime has been filled with many rapture producing episodes as I paused on the ledges long enough to look around me. I guess I could name my mountain, "Love". Exploring all of the types of love along the way and learning how to give and receive love takes a lifetime to understand. The animals, plants, and other humans have been my teachers as I climb. Just when I think I have reached the summit and know all there is about love, I am surprised by another rapturous moment. Adding each experiece to my backpack, I have acquired plenty of love in a variety of forms that is ready to be shared.

  2. Good day! It was so nice to visit your personal blog and especially to read this blog post. Also I would like to know one thing. Do you practice guest blogging?

  3. This morning I discovered the particular joy of Mary Oliver's poem "Climbing Pinnacle." Because I wanted to email it to a friend, I look for it online. When I found it on your site, I was dismayed by the fact that the poem is not included in its entirety, nor are the stanza spacings Oliver uses included. If you are a poet yourself, you too know that the poet does not choose her spacings arbitrarily but as part of the poem's flow. Also, to leave out several lines of the poem shortchanges it. I hope you will consult the original (in "New and Selected Poems, Volume Two") and make the necessary corrections as a way of honoring her gift to us of this poem. Thank you.