Sunday, May 25, 2014

Mary Oliver: "Heavy"

                              That time
                              I thought I could not
                              go any closer to grief
                              without dying

                              I went closer,
                              and I did not die.
                              Surely God
                              had His hand in this,

                              as well as friends.
                              Still, I was bent,
                              and my laughter,
                              as the poets said,

                              was nowhere to be found.
                              Then said my friend Daniel
                              (brave even among lions),
                              “It’s not the weight you carry

                              but how you carry it—
                              books, bricks, grief—
                              it’s all in the way
                              you embrace it, balance it, carry it

                              when you cannot, and would not,
                              put it down.”
                              So I went practicing.
                              Have you noticed?

                              Have you heard
                              the laughter
                              that comes, now and again,
                              out of my startled mouth?

                              How I linger
                              to admire, admire, admire
                              the things of this world
                              that are kind, and maybe

                              also troubled—
                              roses in the wind,
                              the sea geese on the steep waves,
                              a love
                              to which there is no reply?

"Heavy" by Mary Oliver, from Thirst: Poems. © Beacon Press, 2007.

Photography credit: "Typical Vietnamese figure on Mui Ne dunes. Mui Ne, Vietnam," by QY Luong. © 2012 QT Luong/


  1. This is lovely and so important to those of us trying to balance the "Heavy" burdens given to us. Thank you!

  2. A year after Uvalde, we are trying to balance our grief with working for change.


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