Ode to Mary Oliver

I see her walking through peonies
waiting patiently for the strawberry moon.
She, the night traveler in my dreams.
She bids me walk slowly, eyes open in my sleep,
to explore her natural world.
Together we soar on the wings of a hawk
as goldfinches sing and wonder precedes us.
Approaching Provincetown,
we marvel at migrating wild geese
making their cacophonous way
to their winter’s resting place.
As I begin to drift near rising
she leads me past fields of goldenrod
to a small pond bedecked in floating flowers,
lily pads asleep and yet to bloom.
Cool winds ruffle my eyelids
like rustling leaves in a tree.
The lilies break open over the dark water
as my dream retreats into dawning sky.
I awaken to a certain sharpness in the morning air
ready to take up pen, inspired by this woman.
She, the night traveler in my dreams.

Written for NAPOWRIMO, Day 25. Today we’re to write an aisling: to recount a dream or vision featuring a woman who represents the land/country on/in which the poet lives.

Mary Oliver moved to Provincetown in the 1960s and sets most of her poetry in and around this wonderful town. An avid walker, much of her poetry comes from her observances of the natural world. I’ve incorporated 9 titles of her poems in my Ode:
Strawberry Moon
The Night Traveler
Wild Geese
The Lilies Break Open Over the Dark Water
A Certain Sharpness in the Morning Air

We’ve lived in Boston for the past twenty-five years and spend two weeks of every year in Provincetown, at the very tip of Cape Cod. Photos from our visits to P’town.

One thought on “Ode to Mary Oliver

  1. Mary Nilsen April 26, 2022 / 6:43 pm

    Dear Lillian,

    I don’t have time to read your poetry every time an email comes, but the name caught my attention and I read and read again. Beautiful. The cadence soothed my soul.

    Roy has had a couple of bad days—they said this sometimes happens, but still we were not quite prepared, but is better today. Solveig is here so we are hoping to go out for sushi tonight.

    Once again, I am relearning how to live one day at a time. That must be my life lesson, it has come up so often. Solveig and I have had a little project. We are needing to get rid of books, so she was going to fill boxes and carry them down to the car and then off for the planned parenthood book sale, but when I became reticent, with each passing day, she suggested we photograph them all first on the shelf and then I can still get the energy by looking at the spine and remembering the content (of those I actually read and can remember). So we got busy setting up shelves. I’ll attach the result. Today we got it (actually “them”—made one for Roy’s books and one for the books I’ve written and one for the books I’ve published.) printed. Tomorrow, we will figure out how to frame them.

    Here’s what one of them looks like:



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