Mary Oliver passed today...


When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox

when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,
tending, as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.

When it's over, I want to say all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it's over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.

I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.

-Mary Oliver

Burning the Old Year

“Letters swallow themselves in seconds.

Notes friends tied to the doorknob,

transparent scarlet paper,

sizzle like moth wings,

marry the air.

So much of any year is flammable,

lists of vegetables, partial poems.

Orange swirling flame of days,

so little is a stone.

Where there was something and suddenly isn’t,

an absence shouts, celebrates, leaves a space.

I begin again with the smallest numbers.

Quick dance, shuffle of losses and leaves,

only the things I didn’t do

crackle after the blazing dies.”

— Naomi Shihab Nye, from Words Under the Words: Selected Poems

Memory believes before knowing remembers. Believes longer than recollects, longer than knowing even wonders.
— William Faulkner, Light in August

How to Leave a Motel Room

The act touches on mortality. It offers a small dose of the autobiographical sadness you feel after the moving van has gone and you take a last look around the place where you used to live. Travelers who must face this experience on a daily basis should brace for it with stoutness of heart and the comfort of ritual. First, shower. Then put on all the clothes you expect to wear that day. (Your coat may be left until right before departure.) Fill your pockets with everything you normally carry, except for the room key. Place that in a prominent spot on top of a few singles or a five, for the cleaning people or the demons of the room.

Pack your briefcase. Pack all other gear, and then your clothes. Take the suitcase out to the car first, leaving the room door ajar. (I flick the little metal-bar thing across the frame to keep it open.) Come back for your other gear. Leave your briefcase with the most important stuff last.

The slamming of car doors in the morning is the unwelcome rooster crow of the motel world, so I make it a point of honor to avoid slamming anything. Ideally, in good weather, I like to load up and leave without closing any car door more than twice. When the car is loaded, it’s time for a final look around the room. Check the closet—and always remember the little hook behind the bathroom door. (I’ve left a lot of pajamas on those hooks.) For the very last, I always get down and look under the bed. I have never once found any forgotten object there, but I always check just the same. On family trips when I was little, my father always used to do that last of all. He has been dead now for 20 years; I like to imprint on my mind the same under-motel-room-bed vista that he saw. At this moment of transience, it gives me a reassuring sense of eternity.
— Ian Frazier, How to Do Everything,

I’ll never know, and neither will you, of the life you don’t choose. We’ll only know that whatever that sister life was, it was important and beautiful and not ours. It was the ghost ship that didn’t carry us. There’s nothing to do but salute it from the shore.
— Cheryl Strayed


“I have an inward treasure born with me, which can keep me alive if all extraneous delights should be withheld, or offered only at a price I cannot afford to give.”

 - Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre