Mary Oliver


I found this this morning. Mary Oliver poem. At this very moment I’m not sure I’ve ever loved a poem more.

When Death Comes
By Mary Oliver

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox;

when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,
tending, as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.

When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited the world.

This Saturday marks a year since my friend died. Today I look out my bedroom window and the crab apple is nearly ready to burst into bloom. These days I battle with silence versus telling in a world where a million radios are on all of the time all tuned to our own private stations. I guess it’s a sign that I’m getting old — when technology seems both miraculous and threatening.

A poem for you this morning. It isn’t an easy one but it’s beautiful.



12 responses

  1. While it’s a gorgeous poem, this is the line that brought me to my knees: “These days I battle with silence versus telling in a world where a million radios are on all of the time all tuned to our own private stations.”

    Abiding with you as you remember your friend.

    • Thanks sweet Mel. I have been thinking of the different world traditions a year after someone dies. My own spiritual tradition doesn’t have anything but I feel like I should create one. And is it me or does it seem like such a different world from the one we started blogging in?

      Love to you as ever as always,


    • Thank you lovely Esperanza, I have been following your posts and your lovely growing family. I’m sorry I haven’t been better about joining your community–but I always read your posts the minute they come across my reader.



  2. Thank you for this. This is just awesome. I don’t read poetry unless someone posts it, so I appreciate it. I’m going to pass it along to a Buddhist friend who does podcasts about the writings of Nichiren Daishonin. Last year they did one on life and death and it really helped me.

    • Xoxo. I’m so glad you like it. I love Mary Oliver. I never seek out much coaching anymore but I just stumbled across this one –seemed like fate. You and I are on the same motherhood Read your latest post. I have been missing my life outside of motherhood recently. You remain an inspiration. Xoxo. And a comfort just knowing you’re there in the world.

  3. Simply gorgeous. Thinking of you & your friend (it’s really been a whole year??). I was actually in your neck of the woods last weekend & thought about you & maybe trying to get in touch — but it was a fast visit for a family function, & you know what those can be like…! Maybe another time. ❤

    • I miss you too. I’ve been focusing far too much of what little time I have on my health. I miss you all … My miracle friends in the computer xoxoxo I’ve been thinking of you and your friend.



  4. Hello my love, my Pam. I am here! In your space! So very sorry I have been away for so long. I catch a glimpse of the back of Z’s hair in Instagram and I imagine you breathing her in, so fully and beautifully and deeply and exactly how somebody should have breathed your hair in as a child but didn’t. I love how you have the capacity to give what you never had, it’s just in you, your beautiful soul.

    Love you.

    Eden xxxxxxx

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