Visiting the Graveyard
When I think of death
it is a bright enough city
and every year more faces there
but not a single one
though I long for it,
and when they talk together,
which they do
it's in an unknowable language—
I can catch the tone
but understand not a single word—
and when I open my eyes
there's the mysterious field, the beautiful trees.
There are the stones.
— Mary Oliver,
from "Red Bird"
I can't resist an old cemetery and am always making Mark pull off the road to let me explore. Both of these images of stones are from a cemetery on Route 394, just down the road from the Chautauqua Institute in New York state.
As for Mary Oliver, she's won both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. In her poetry, as well as her essays, she observes nature with a keen, unsentimental eye. Birds and flowers, in particular, are constant subjects; ones that quickly lured this gardener deeper into Oliver's work the first time someone showed me one of her books. Her language is precise, her imagery true. I bought "Red Bird" as a treat for myself at the beginning of poetry month. Before April is over, go treat yourself to some Mary Oliver.