By Margret Bollerup
Right now (I say “right now” like this is a new find for me. It’s not. Years and years ago, someone’s psychiatrist suggested reading it, and that someone emailed it to me, and I cried for what felt like days because suddenly it was okay to feel things differently and still fit. I say “right now” because life has a way of circling you back to a place you’ve been over and over and over again), “Wild Geese” by Mary Oliver is one of my heart songs.
(Secretly: the very very very last part doesn’t quite work for me anymore, but the feeling of the poem as a whole is still so very raw and wet and real that I can’t help but carry it around in my guts. “Things” is kind of half-assed but I don’t know what would have been better.)
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
~ Mary Oliver