When I heard the news, I felt the swell. The swell before the tears. The space in my chest that fills with a question. Does it hurt enough?
And then they came.
A friend has died.
I remember when I found you. I was 22.
I was visiting Winston-Salem, North Carolina and I bought a book of poems.
I saw myself inside them, like a still lake — reflective.
When I was 23, I gave your book to someone I loved. I told him it was important to me and not to lose it.
He lost it.
I was so angry, I wouldn’t buy another copy. The years went by…
Whenever I am hurt, I deny myself what I need. That is my sickness.
It took me a long time to forgive him.
Five years later, I bought the book again. That’s the moment I let go.
Now, some twenty years later, I look at my book shelf, and your name appears on it more than any other.
You’ve always reminded me of what I need to remember — I belong to a family of things.
What is true:
There lives in me a bud of rage. No matter how many times I lop off the blossom, it grows back.
The wing of the bird, the yawn of the dog, the stretch of the cat — all living things are reaching to become themselves.
A poem can be a friend. The one who knows your despair.
He isn’t coming back.
All the things I love will die.
But, I don’t want to die with these dreams frozen inside me.
I write to thaw them out.
RIP Mary Oliver. You are heading home.