In Blackwater Woods by Mary Oliver

Look, the trees
are turning
their own bodies
into pillars

of light,
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
and fulfillment,

the long tapers
of cattails
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders

of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is

nameless now.
Every year
I have ever learned

in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side

is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.

“In Blackwater Woods” by Mary Oliver, from American Primitive.
© Back Bay Books, 1983.

Flawed #2

It should really be titled Flawed No More because I think it actually came out well (except for that carelessly shaded white shirt but then who cares, right?).

I’ve realized now that ever since I started drawing in mid-April, after I decided to no longer teach the science courses at the school (and reconciling my feelings over that, money versus happiness), that each of my drawings is a meditation on something.

This one was one about making what I considered flawed un-flawed – about learning from past mistakes and making lemonade out of lemons.  It’s about not being afraid all the time over what I consider such a flawed piece because it actually isn’t.

So what if it doesn’t look like the original image? It’s an interpretation of something I’m seeing through my mind’s eye and through the filter comprising my thoughts and my fears, even my culture and my environment. Pretty loaded but through it all, what I had considered was flawed emerged, I think, beautiful.

Like life.


She used to come on a Thursday afternoon
with her powdered wig and false teeth
Rich but a bit too quirky
you could even hear her breathe
a bit too eccentric
always out of key,
can’t you see –
she’s nothing like you and me?

Grandmother tolerated her
everyone did
but the moment she left
they’d laugh and they’d kid
talking about her hair
her teeth, her skin
her rheumy eyes,
the hairs on her chin

But all talk would go to one thing
when everyone was done
where was all her money?
where had it all gone?
Last I heard she came to California
married a man more than half her age
no one knows where she now
a fool, a wanderer, never the sage

But I often find myself wondering
whatever became of her
not caring about the money
how did her life become a blur?
a person of no importance
but for the money she once had
she’s been gone for so long now
I hope her life wasn’t really that sad.