Monday, December 14, 2015

Mary Oliver: "Clam"

Each one is a small life, but sometimes long, if its
place in the universe is not found out. Like us, they
have a heart and a stomach; they know hunger, and
probably a little satisfaction too. Do not mock them
for their gentleness, they have a muscle that loves
being alive. They pull away from the light. They pull
down. They hold themselves together. They refuse to

But sometimes they lose their place and are tumbled
shoreward in a storm. Then they pant, they fill
with sand, they have no choice but must open the
smallest crack. Then the fire of the world touches
them. Perhaps, on such days, they too begin the
terrible effort of thinking, of wondering who, and
what, and why. If they can bury themselves again in
the sand they will. If not, they are sure to perish,
though not quickly. They also have resources beyond
the flesh; they also try very hard not to die.

"Clam" by Mary Oliver. Text as published in What Do We Know: Poems and Prose Poems (Da Capo Press, 2002).

Art credit: "Winter Clam Scene," photograph taken on 1/08/2013 by Roger Golub. Caption: "Ice crystals on Butter Clams."

Curator's note: Have you given me the gift of your wisdom yet? Please take my two-minute survey before January 1. It will help me (and any potential publishers) decide upon an anthology of mindfulness poetry.

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