In Response to Mary Oliver [2]

most of the world is time
when we’re not here,
not born yet, or died –

I am infinitesimally small.

Those who knew me at birth
cared for me, walked with me,
left this earth too soon by my count,
melded into the universe.

The sun however,
still shines upon me
although days are shorter
and final miles fewer.

At my back,
the sun projects my future,
step by step in front of me
a syncopated seer.

Shadowed possibilities
become realities,
one foot forward
into the new.

In front of me
she warms my face
till glances backward
see my past,

following me,
stepping where I was
but a moment before,
a speck of time

a dab of humanistic paint
upon a pointillist canvas,
soon to intersect
with those before my time.


Written for dVerse Tuesday Poetics. We are to respond to a poet in dVerse, or a poet of our choice. We may or may not use an actual line from their poem. The first line here is from Hummingbird Pauses at the Trumpet Vine by Mary Oliver. In Response to Mary Oliver [2]  is two because when I started writing poetry in February 2015, my first attempt was a response to another poem by Mary Oliver — rewritten in January 2016. I enjoy her writing — and she is a kindred spirit in terms of being a Massachusetts resident from Provincetown, where we spend two glorious weeks each fall. Today is also used for NaPowWriMo Day 26.

51 thoughts on “In Response to Mary Oliver [2]

    • lillian April 26, 2016 / 11:54 am

      So glad you enjoyed. A lovely is nice every once in a while 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • lillian April 26, 2016 / 11:54 am

      Thank you, Jane. So nice to see you here today!


  1. Björn Rudberg (brudberg) April 26, 2016 / 2:27 pm

    This is wonderful, the thought of our own insignificance in time (and in space) something I can so much resonate with…

    Yet from this minuscule speck
    expands the supernovae
    of art and poetry
    spanning time and space

    Liked by 2 people

    • lillian April 26, 2016 / 2:52 pm

      Yes indeed. For me, I had a hard time adjusting to the fact that I was the only one left in my immediate family. My brother, 9 years older than me, died at 51; my dad, before we moved to Boston; and my mom, 18 months after we moved to Boston. All uncles and aunts are also gone. So all who knew me at my birth —
      but yes — the beauty are the artifacts left behind be they art, music, poetry, photos, etc.


  2. Glenn Buttkus April 26, 2016 / 3:07 pm

    Hard to fathom, considering the depth & scope of your poetry, that you have been only writing it for less than two years; a latent talent no doubt, more than ready to blossom forth fully mature, & nearly perfectly formed. I like your lines /a dab of humanistic paint/upon a pointillist canvas/.

    Liked by 2 people

    • lillian April 26, 2016 / 3:23 pm

      oh my…..You just can’t even imagine how much your kind kind words mean here. You probably don’t remember, but when Gayle was tending bar in January I believe, she asked us to write in a form that had rhyme, X number of lines etc….I’d never rhymed before – only “form” I’d ever attempted was a haiku! I was so thankful someone had mentioned the rhyming tools online. So, I did my first what I call, poetic sudoku 🙂 I was so proud of myself and posted it! Gayle was so so kind….saying first how much she liked it and then ever so gently pointing out that I had the rhyme scheme wrong….ugh….so I fixed that….and then she kindly pointed out that I now had one too many lines! 🙂 Third try was the charm — thank goodness for the edit capacity of WP.
      So you see, dVerse has been a mentor for me — a teaching tool as well as a challenge. And when I see comments like this — well…. Thank you thank you! 🙂 Looking forward to reading the poems today. Smiling I am.


  3. Victoria C. Slotto April 26, 2016 / 3:09 pm

    Mary is and always has been my inspiration. My poetry book, Jacaranda Rain, is dedicated to her. When I’m stuck, I go to her, find a line, use it as a title and it seems to write itself. I’m not surprised we share the same admiration for this poet. And your poem is wonderful.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian April 26, 2016 / 3:25 pm

      Many thanks! So very glad you enjoyed. 🙂


  4. The Literary Doc April 26, 2016 / 3:42 pm

    Such great themes in this poem… time and loss and things ticking away but somehow preserved. Very nice. I really enjoyed reading this.

    Liked by 2 people

    • lillian April 26, 2016 / 3:57 pm

      Thank you so much. Glad you enjoyed 🙂


  5. Abhra April 26, 2016 / 4:06 pm

    “Shadowed possibilities
    become realities,
    one foot forward
    into the new.”

    I love this – a beautiful piece – but you gave away the secret…..

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian April 26, 2016 / 4:33 pm

      So glad you liked it, Abhra. Yes — I felt since I used Mary Oliver’s word-for-word sentence as the beginning of my poem, I must give her credit for her words. My guess is there are copyright rules that apply to her work. I love her work so very much.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. JoHanna Massey April 26, 2016 / 6:00 pm

    Lillian, this is just beautiful.
    I adore Mary Oliver also.
    This poem of yours stands strong in your own words. It always takes me by surprise anew when I read that you have only been writing poetry since 2015. I do imagine though that you have lived a poetic life in many ways, which will make for more mighty fine words to come.
    Thank you for sharing. 🌍

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian April 26, 2016 / 6:10 pm

      hmmmm, a poetic life. Now that would be interesting to define, right? 🙂
      So glad you enjoyed this.
      Confession: when I took my first poetry writing class in February 2015 (online with Holly Wren Spaulding — google her), she asked that we start by choosing a poet and using them to inspire us through the course. The only poets I knew were Carl Sandburg and Langston Hughes, having taught their work years and years and years ago when I taught 10th grade English! So I went to the bookstore and asked the woman at the counter for a suggestion. She gave me Mary Oliver’s book — and I truly enjoyed her work! 🙂 So there you go — I now read more poetry (books gifted to me from my spouse and kids — online dVerse and others). — it’s truly opened an entirely new world to me 🙂 Thank you so very much for your kind words here! 🙂 Smiling I am.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Mary April 26, 2016 / 6:08 pm

    Well, I have always LOVED, LOVED, LOVED Mary Oliver, so it is delightful to read how you wrote using your chosen quote. And, indeed I feel the same…those who raised me left the world all too soon. They have, since then, become part of MY universe; but I miss their physical presence greatly. And, as possibilities become reality, we glance to our past and pay homage to those who have gone before. And I am left contemplating that ‘humanistic paint.’

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian April 26, 2016 / 6:13 pm

      She is a marvelous writer!
      Yes — I “feel” my family sometimes in my dreams — and they are forever with me in my heart. More concretely, I love to occasionally take out my old photo albums — and photos of them are in my study. We are who came before us.
      Thank you for your very kind words, Mary.


  8. jillys2016 April 26, 2016 / 8:11 pm

    ‘a syncopated seer’ is a remarkable line that stopped me in my tracks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian April 26, 2016 / 11:33 pm

      🙂 So nice to see you here tonight! Glad you liked it — I think this means you liked it?


      • jillys2016 April 27, 2016 / 2:23 pm

        Indeed! ( I’m learning how the pub works.) …and Mary Oliver is on my short-list. Beautiful choice / Beautiful poem! Thanks, Jilly

        Liked by 1 person

      • lillian April 27, 2016 / 2:50 pm

        So glad you’re enjoying dVerse.!


  9. hayesspencer April 26, 2016 / 10:57 pm

    Mary Oliver is a new poet to me but I have fallen head over heels for her work. You did a most amazing job on this poem written in tribute. So many of your lines evoke the spirit and wisdom of her work. Great work Lillian!

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian April 26, 2016 / 11:33 pm

      Thanks so much. She is definitely a favorite of mine. Glad you like this.


  10. kim881 April 27, 2016 / 1:47 am

    A lovely poem – now I must find out about Mary Oliver, as she is new to me. Is she an American poet?

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian April 27, 2016 / 6:01 am

      Yes. From Provincetown, MA. She is a winner of the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. She writes a lot about the natural landscape — which is not surprising given that she lives in Provincetown (Cape Cod). If you look on my site, there is a page of photographs from our visits to Provincetown — we used to go every summer for 2 weeks. Now that we’re rejuvenated (never say retired), we go 2 weeks in September. You’ll see by the photos how the place can be a wonderful muse for artists and poets.

      Liked by 1 person

      • kim881 April 27, 2016 / 6:40 am

        Thank you, Lillian. I’ve already started to look at poems and biographical information. I’ll pop over and look at your photographs.

        Liked by 1 person

      • lillian April 27, 2016 / 6:49 am

        My guess is you’ll enjoy her immensely. She is what I call “accessible.” In a very good way.

        Liked by 1 person

    • lillian April 27, 2016 / 9:57 pm

      Thank you so much! So glad you liked it. Smiling I am.


  11. Bryan Ens April 28, 2016 / 8:58 am

    “The sun still shines” – so true…even in grief, the world doesn’t stop (and that’s probably a good thing! )

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian April 29, 2016 / 8:22 am

      So very glad you liked this one, Bryan. I am always inspired by Mary Oliver’s work.


  12. mtw April 30, 2016 / 5:00 am

    this was such a delight to read! your imagery is so vivid and colorful. i barely need to use any imagination to see the scenes you paint.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian April 30, 2016 / 9:45 am

      Thank you so much. So nice to see you this morning over my morning cup of coffee! 🙂


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