So long as you don’t mind a little dying…

The Kingfisher
Mary Oliver

The kingfisher rises out of the black wave
Like a blue flower, in his beak
he carries a single silver leaf. I think this is
The prettiest world— so long as you don’t mind
a little dying, how could there be a day in your whole life
that doesn’t have its splash of happiness?
There are more fish than there are leaves
on a thousand trees, and anyway the kingfisher
wasn’t born to think about it, or anything else.
When the wave snaps shut over his blue head, the water
remains water— hunger is the only story
he has ever heard in his life that he could believe.
I don’t say that he’s right. Neither
do I say he’s wrong. Religiously he swallows the silver leaf
with its broken red river, and with a rough and easy cry
I couldn’t rouse out of my thoughtful body
if my life depended on it, he swings back
over the bright sea to do the same thing, to do it
(as I long to do something, anything) perfectly.


This poem I read last night fit (for me) so well with Jen’s post today.

Thank you, Jen, for that story. I laughed so hard I cried! And I’m sorry that series of moments was such a challenge, but I bet you earned the top-anything brag from it. :)

This is the line from that poem describes things perfectly for me just now:

I think this is
The prettiest world— so long as you don’t mind
a little dying, how could there be a day in your whole life
that doesn’t have its splash of happiness?

Blessings on your day! I hope your splash of happiness is flood today. ;)

April Rain Song

by Langston Hughes

Let the rain kiss you.
Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops
Let the rain sing you a lullaby.

The rain makes still pools on the sidewalk.
The rain makes running pools in the gutter.
The rain plays a little sleep-song on our roof at night—

And I love the rain

~ ~ ~

It’s interesting to me how much context can affect content.

I started a diary of sorts when I was 13. By the time I was 19 I had only filled one book, but was working concurrently on three others.

Without setting out this way, I had categorized my ideas and designated which book was appropriate for which thoughts.

The reason I was just thinking of this today was I was playing my Rainsong guitar and thought that would make a fun blog name, had anybody snatched it up yet?

The funny thing is that my mind immediately began to form what I would write under that heading. It felt just like a new journal always did.


Hughes’s poem was the first thing I thought of. My girls and I love it. The funny thing is that since song is in the title, they always stop me if I try just to read it.

The name is already taken, of course, which was probably a good thing. I need to remember what I’ve got now is enough. ;)

Poems and Their Parodies

I find these types of things quite funny.

Joyce Kilmer

I think that I shall never see
A poem as lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.


Earle Birney

i fear that i shall never make
a poem slippier than a snake
or oozing with as fine a juice
as runs in girls or even spruce
no i wont make now nor later
pnomes as luverlee as pertaters
trees is made by fauns or satyrs
but only taters make pertaters
& trees is grown by sun from sod
so are the sods who need a god
but poettrees lack any clue
they just need me & maybe you

~ ~ ~
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
~ ~ ~

This Is Just to Say
William Carlos Williams

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold


This Is Just to Say
Erica-Lynn Gambino

(for William Carlos Williams)

I have just
asked you to
get out of my

even though
you never thought
I would

Forgive me
you were
me insane

The Joke

That Joke that you told isn’t funny one bit.
It’s pointless and dull, wholly laking in wit.
It’s so old and stale it’s beginning to smell–
Besides, it’s the one I was going to tell.


New Things to Think About

I was at a 6-hour seminar from 2 to 4 today.

There was a *lot* of material covered and not covered, and I’ll definitely be getting the book from the library to fill in the gaps. Some new new ideas were planted that I’m going to mulch for a while.

~ ~ ~

He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven
W.B. Yeats

Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

How do we see past *now*?

I figured out why I buy so many books, and why I bring home these ridiculously large piles (or bags) from the Library. And I found it in a Robert Frost poem.

Many People Are familiar with “The Road not Taken,” particularly the last two lines:

I took the one less traveled by,
and that has made all the difference.

What caught my mind more this reading was the end of the third stanza:

Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

This is why. This feeling that once you leave something behind you are nearly choosing to be wholly done with it.

Because of this, I will sometimes take hold of more (be they ideas, activities or books,) than I can reasonably consume, just because I feel half panicy that I may never return if I pass it by.

I need to start asking myself what I’d really lose if I never came back. I’ve lived without it until now, right? Right?

I suppose I’m revealing an undisciplined nature here, since, at least in theory, I shouldn’t have to utterly give up anything, just re-time it. But despite my attempts to remember otherwise, I sometimes still get fixated on now.

Jay and I were discussing this, and we decided that the main challenge comes from having no track record. After all, the first two-thirds of our lives were spent understanding and keeping up with short-term goals.

Seven Happy Years

Elizabeth Jennings

I fear it’s very wrong of me
And yet I must admit
When someone offers friendship
I want the whole of it.
I don’t want everybody else
To share my friends with me.
At least, I want one special one,
Who, indisputably
Likes me much more than all the rest,
Who’s always on my side.
Who never cares what others say,
Who lets me come and hide
Within his shadow, in his house —
It doesn’t matter where —
Who lets me simply be myself,
Who’s always always there.

I have been so thankful for the refining journey God is taking me on through marriage. Over and over I’m reminded we were created for fellowship (with one another, as well as with God) and marriage is the lovely way He provides for that basic need to be met.

I used to be offended (almost) at the insistence that marriage is hard work. It sounded too much like complaining, and complaining seemed nearly blasphemous, or, at least, to be begging for trouble (Oh, you think that’s hard, huh?).

My image has shifted slightly since then. Now it’s more like comparing marriage to a garden. A garden takes work to prepare and maintain, but that’s no shame; that’s what distinguishes it from the wilderness.

I have become a different (and better) person because of Jay, and that’s in God’s plan. For every believer our ultimate goal is to become more Christ-like, and knowing our good God, he is going to assist that process in the way most effective for each of us.

The sentiment in that poem is reflective of my (basically) selfish nature. It wasn’t until I was married, though, that God let me know a part of it was okay. He designed us this way, and uses it (as he does so many things) to reveal another aspect of himself.

This reminder of God’s jealous nature for his people (including me!) should be very sobering, and even encouraging (if that’s the right word). It shows me a different type– or maybe it’s just a different side– of the love that died for me.

A Poem for Storytellers

(Or at least for this one.)

Adrian Plass (from the City of Gold soundtrack)

I cannot say my creed in words.
How should I spell
despair, excitement, joy and grief?
amazement, anger, certainty and

What was the grammar of those sleepless nights?
Who the subject? What the object? –
of a friend who will not come,
or does not come,
and then
creates his own eccentric special dawn:
A blinding light that does not blind.

Why do I find you in the secret,
wordless places where I hide
from your eternal light?
I hate you.
I love you.
I miss you.
I wish that you would go
and yet I know that long ago
you made a fairy tale for me

About the day when you would take your sword
and battle through the thicket of the things I have become.

Your kiss to life…my Sleeping Beauty
waiting for her Prince to come.

Then I will wake
and look into your eyes
and understand.
And for the first time
I will not be dumb
and I shall
say my creed
in words.

I should explain that these line breaks are nearly arbitrary. I’ve never seen a written version from the author– only listened to the recording. So there are a few words I sometimes wonder about too.

But I think it gets the overall message across.

Remembering and Missing

I am exactly one year out from the intense-est two weeks of my life. The two weeks I watched my grandmother (and mother) in the hospital before my grandmother died.

(If observing someone process all that is actually of interest, you may visit the archives to read the end of July last year.)

It was a surreal, intense, time, as I was adjusting both to the arrival of my third child and to the idea of losing an important fixture in my life.


When my second baby was born, two weeks after my grandfather died, my grandma spent several mornings a week at my house. She helped me in my goal of allowing my 17 1/2-month-old to continue being a baby.

It was something Grandma felt she denied her own 17 1/2-month-old when her next baby arrived.

She came, and held babies, and swept carpets (my vacuum was too heavy for her), until that amazing day when my baby-baby was 3 months old and I realized I had managed both the children and the house alone. Managed them competently and well.

During those same adjusting weeks with #3, I was calling around for babysitters to watch my girls a couple mornings a week so I could spell my mom, who was now living at the hospital with Grandma.


We always had someone beside her bed, to take care of the myriad of little things a person needs, but someone like Grandma would go without before she called a nurse in for help.

I borrowed a rolling infant bed from the birthing wing, so I’d have a place to lay my miraculously sleeping baby for the hours I was with Grandma.

And Grandma and I would talk. About everything that was on her mind or mine.  Talk like we’d done for months before we’d even thought of hospitals.

Only with my husband have I had a deeper communion of thought
with another human being.

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:

O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wand’ring bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.

Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom:

If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

Sonnet 116

Poems and Grandpa

“Was it unexpected?”

Funny how that seems to be the first thing people say when they hear someone has died.

I heard it after each grandparent, and found myself very seriously responding, especially after my grandmother’s death, “Of course it was expected– no one lives forever. But that doesn’t mean we were ready for it.”

With my grandfather it was the day after his 91st birthday, he had had a lovely day. My 17-month-old had finally smiled at him, and accepted his friendliness. At dinner that night he prayed, thanking God for His great faithfulness and provision in a long and challenging and lovely life.

When I first learned he had died I was rather shell-shocked. But when I was able to think again I remembered two poems. My mother loved the first, and we used it in the folder at his memorial service.

To Be of Use
Marge Piercy

The people I love best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half-submerged balls.

I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.

I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.

The work of the world is as common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museum
but you know they were meant to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.

My grandfather was generous and a worker his whole life. This poem encapsulated beautifully the meaning of good work, and what it meant to him, defining, it seemed, his whole view of himself.

This next poem is harder to peg down, but it expresses so well the emotions of my loss, even when it doesn’t match intellectually or spiritually what I really believe.

A Dirge Without Music
Edna St. Vincent Millay

I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned
With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.

Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.
A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
A formula, a phrase remains, — but the best is lost.

The answers quick & keen, the honest look, the laughter, the love,
They are gone. They have gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled
Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not approve.
More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the world.

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.

Poetry has been so useful to me in recent years, providing my tired but hungry mind with satisfying bites of thought already put in order.

I hope these bites might also offer some encouragement to other readers.