Monday, March 24, 2008


I've been trying to remember this poem by Mary Oliver since I first walked the beach in Florida. The other night I went searching for my Oliver poetry book so I could look it up, along with the Moccasin Flower poem I posted . This is one of my all time favorites. (Searching for whelks was great fun while I was in Florida and while I didn't have lots of luck finding whole ones, the search was the journey and a fine time was had by me!)


Here are the perfect
fans of the scallops, quahogs, and
weedy mussels
still holding their orange fruit---
and here are the
each the size of a fist,
but always cracked
and broken---
clearly they have been traveling
under the sky-blue waves
for a long time.
All my life
I have been restless---
I have felt
there is something
more wonderful than gloss---
than wholeness---
than staying at home.
I have not been sure what it is.
But every
morning on the wide shore
I pass what is perfect and shining
to look for
the whelks, whose edges
have rubbed so long against the world
they have
snapped and crumbled---
they have almost vanished,
with the last
of their unrepeatable energy,
back into everything else.
When I find one
I hold it in my hand,
I look out over that shanking fire,
I shut my eyes. Not often,
but now and again there's a moment
when the heart cries aloud:
yes, I am willing to be
that wild
that long, blue body of light.

Mary Oliver

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