Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Kitten

More amazed than anything 
I took the perfectly black 
stillborn kitten 
with the one large eye 
in the center of its small forehead 
from the house cat's bed 
and buried it in a field 
behind the house. 

I suppose I could have given it 
to a museum, 
I could have called the local 

But instead I took it out into the field 
and opened the earth 
and put it back 
saying, it was real, 
saying, life is infinitely inventive, 
saying, what other amazements 
lie in the dark seed of the earth, yes, 

I think I did right to go out alone 
and give it back peacefully, and cover the place 
with the reckless blossoms of weeds.

I just read a critique of Mary Oliver's poems where the author concluded that Mary is giving up too much information to the reader.   "...She takes her poems too far by giving the reader the answer to a puzzle and not letting them try for themselves.  Poetry is meant to make the reader think, wondering what the author was talking about or what they meant.  Instead, she leads the reader through explanation within her work, or flatly states a meaning.  By doing so, her poems read as though she’s talking, taking the musicality out of them."

Well, I've been on Mary myself over this near year of rising with her. Sometimes I fuss that she gives not enough of an answer, and at other times I am relieved that I hear her wisdom, her actions, and her account of her actions.  I spend enough time alone in my thoughts every day. What a pleasure to hear what someone else is doing out in the fields that are beyond "wrongdoing and rightdoing" as Rumi pens.  In some ways, her poems are stories and not poems. This is more evident in her books where the selections move in and out of prose.

I admit too to at times disagreeing with her conclusion, her thoughts, her bearings.  But what am I disagreeing with? Am I saying she is wrong to conclude this way or that, and to pass on to those readers what is right and good for her?  Or am I saying that I mourn that she is separate from me and has her own way about her?  She's got 20 years on me, is from New England, and is a very different creature than me.  Is this what I wish to argue with as I raise my fist to the sun's first rays on the mornings when Mary disturb me?  I think not.  My beef (and belief) is this, "I am not alone in this world, and refuse to carry on as if it were so."  

Mary's poems, with a conclusion or not, and whether they feel right or wrong to me, challenge me to use all that I have to see our interdependence, and to have faith that so much love and compassion is still to be born.

What is still to be born in you?

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