Thursday, March 22, 2007


a black bear
has just risen from sleep
and is staring

down the mountain.
All night
in the brisk and shallow restlessness
of early spring

I think of her,
her four black fists
flicking the gravel,
her tongue

like a red fire
touching the grass,
the cold water.
There is only one question:

how to love this world.
I think of her
like a black and leafy ledge

to sharpen her claws against
the silence
of the trees.
Whatever else

my life is
with its poems
and its music
and its cities,

it is also this dazzling darkness
down the mountain,
breathing and tasting;

all day I think of her --
her white teeth,
her wordlessness,
her perfect love.
Appropriately, I've been thinking today about Mary Oliver's poem, "Spring," here on this first full day of spring, the day after the vernal equinox. While I'm not sure about Oliver's suggestion that a bear loves the world any more perfectly than I do, I think Oliver is probably correct to say that "how to love this world" is the one question that matters most. For those of us who doubt that there will be other lives after this one, and who question the existence of worlds beyond this one, it matters a great deal that we learn to love this one. And in a world where we have such an abundance of senseless wars, fear, hatred, anguish, pollution, poisonous language, and mindless nationalistic propaganda, there is reason to be cynical. But I take Oliver's side. We must find a way to love this world. It is the only one we can be sure of.


Flights Of The Mind said...


Wonderful thoughts/post :)

Flights Of The Mind

Jim said...

Thanks for the words of encouragement. Some people don't like Mary Oliver because she's too overt. I think that's precisely why I like her.