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Looking Inside

Available from The Penguin Press, 2012

There is one thing I never compromise on with poetry and that is owning the print edition book. Not the digital or audio version, but the actual book. A book of poems, really quite small and slender, is a talisman. Silken paper, bound with care. An object to handle thoughtfully, to open and dwell on silently, underline in pencil, archive between the pages a late season pansy, aged tea rings across lines of favorite verse. A deeper, more vivid world to tuck in my bag, leave open by the bed, to reread and rethink in the first quiet of morning. Poems are somehow...don't ask me how, but poems are not given to campfire dramatics, to spindling along by chapter or leaving at midpoint as stories are. No, poems entwine. Their briny starfish spines part of the organic elements of print and paper. Poetry's delicate structure speaks a shape on the page: the architecture of font, the empty space married to the singularity of thought the poet gifts to you. Poem need real books to rest within.

All that is good about life blissfully melds together the moment I crack open the work of a beloved poet. In October I discovered Mary Oliver's newest collection, A Thousand Mornings. These weeks have been extraordinarily joyful, reading Oliver's new poems. They skip like stones across my consciousness: reflective, wise. Musings of an internal questioning her past writings on nature have always hinted at, but which she now exposes with utter simplicity. These poems are the work of a poet writing of a mortal life, an end point she feels tucked in at her elbow, and walks with, head bent in intimate discussion.

Here my friends is just one of the treasures within the leaves of A Thousand Mornings ~

Everyday I'm still looking for God
and I'm still finding him everywhere,
in the dust, in the flowerbeds.
certainly in the oceans,
in the islands that lay in the distance
continents of ice, countries of sand
each with its own set of creatures
and God, by whatever name.
How perfect to be aboard a ship with
maybe a hundred years still in my pocket.
But it's late, for all of us,
and in truth the only ship there is
is the ship we are all on
burning the world as we go.

- Mary Oliver
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