• Jørn Earl Otte

"Mary Oliver in the time of Quarantine" -- April 24, National Poetry Month

Mary Oliver in the time of Quarantine

She would be in her garden.

fertile soil under her nails, sweat

beads dripping from that earnest white

crown, hard won from a lifetime

of being aware of her body,

of wild things,

of tulips, poodles, breath.

She would be entertaining.

When Molly died, she had a choice.

little cabin in the woods filled with books

until the end,

or unlock all the doors,

throw open the windows,

let daylight and springtime

and new friends and old ones

come in, have tea.

She would be writing

that earth was healing

itself right now,

she would be forming lines

with blessed verbs, comfortable nouns,

unapologetic lines of serenity,

she would write that Mother Earth

was reminding us, her children,

what she was meant to look like.

She would be celebrating

her own healing, how late in life

it came, it still came,

like the flowers come

at their own time of choosing,

like we may say we see the storm coming,

but it arrives when the wind and rain decide that it is time.

She would be teaching.

She is teaching. She teaches with each page,

each phrase, each perfectly placed


Just as sure as her wild geese

are still teaching

all of us what we can do and what we never have to do

if we don’t want to do it.

Mary and her geese will be teaching long after all of the doors

of the ravaged world have been unlocked.

The journey will always be ongoing,

because she is still taking us along

with her, slowing us down,

slowing down time.

Sowing seeds.

Watering flowers.

Asking us to take a deep breath. Look around.

She would be my comfort

in the time of quarantine. She is.

She would be my friend. She is.

-- please learn more about the incredible Mary Oliver at

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