I’m not much into poetry. I find it hard to grasp, or intellectually pretentious, or any other label I put on it to mask my own insecurities about it.
But in Mary Oliver, I found a poet whose writings go straight to my heart. She often writes about nature and our connection to it, in a very accessible way.
Her poem “Wild Geese” feels like a warm bath to me. It’s a permission to just be ; to be part of all that surrounds us. Yes, she says, you belong here. You don’t even have to be “good”…
You can be your own self, as you feel it deep down in your body. Connecting with the body is such a beautiful way to deeply feel what is true for you.
I mostly live in my head, so going into the body is a learning process for me, but I manage sometimes.
During yoga, or sport, or by just being very still.. It can be a warm and soft place to be. Accepting, and healing.
Even if you feel you’re a misfit, a weirdo, a small human being… you are part of the family.
And you’re an animal, wild and free…
Here’s the poem :
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
This feeling of sadness mixed with hope is what I tried to express in this blue painting.
The woman is probably coming home from a party. She might have felt lonely in a noisy crowd.
But now she’s taking off her painful shoes and her painful mask. She’s coming home to herself, and to the soft animal of her body.
I like the physicality of her posture. You can almost feel her sigh of relief, her softening.
She belongs here, just like all of us.
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