Wild & Precious Life

a collection of beautiful words…..

The Gardener by Mary Oliver

Have I lived enough?

Have I loved enough?

Have I considered Right Action enough, have I come to any conclusion?

Have I experienced happiness with sufficient gratitude?

Have I endured loneliness with grace?

I say this, or perhaps I’m just thinking it.  

Actually I probably think too much.

Then I step out into the garden,

where the gardener, who is said to be a simple man,

is tending his children, the roses.

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“Gloria Mundi” by Michael Kleber-Diggs

“Come to my funeral dressed as you
would for an autumn walk in the woods.

“Arrive on your schedule; I give you permission
to be late, even without good cause.

“If my day arrives when you had other plans, please
proceed with them instead. Celebrate me

“there—keep dancing. Tend your gardens. Live
well. Don’t stop. Think of me forever assigned

“to a period, a place, a people. Remember me
in stories—not the first time we met, not the last,

“a time in between. Our moment here is small.
I am too—a worldly thing among worldly things—

“one part per seven billion. Make me smaller still.
Repurpose my body. Mix me with soil and seed,

“compost for a sapling. Make my remains useful,
wondrous. Let me bloom and recede, grow

“and decay, let me be lovely yet
temporal, like memories, like mahogany.”

Dear Oakland: An Imperfect Love Letter – September 2022 by Erin Poppler

It’s a losing proposition, he told me. What? I asked. Oakland.

The fish are all dead in the Lake. Willie, the Ambassador of the Lake, died and left only a bench adorned with flowers. There have been 6 shootings in 3 days. Children died. The A’s are rumored to be leaving, taking a cue from the Raiders and Warriors, who left town too. The stadium is overrun by bats, feral cats and lewd acts. 

Why do you stay?

What you read, what is rumored, what becomes a cautionary tale, is not Oakland’s story. 

Violence does not always beget violence. A shooting in broad daylight at the Lake. I saw it. The police blanketed the park with guns drawn. Tonight, the same park reclaimed for a community play lit up by applause and cheers; the audience seated on blankets. 

Just blocks away, the museum is remodeled. And Friday nights, welcomes Everyone to celebrate music and art (for free!).

Yes, Willie is gone. The everyday acknowledgments and acts of kindness that swelled around him are the indomitable spirit that survives and honors him.

The fish are dead, and bat rays too. It’s true. The algae did it, the scientists say. As locals stand on the lakeshore and pull out fish, they warn those inclined to eat them, it might not be safe. Be careful. Because it is Oakland, that is whispered often: Be Careful.

Those A’s, despite all odds and unfair comparisons, keep the bats swinging (the wooden, not winged ones) and heads held high while they remain rooted in Oakland.  

I stay because of pride in my roots, extending over 20 years. Because loving a city is an imperfect proposition. Because the secret of Oakland is in plain sight even though it never makes headlines: Resilience.

Excerpt from Oremus (let us pray) by Pádraig Ó Tuama

Prayer, like poetry, like breath, like our own names, has a fundamental rhythm in our bodies. It changes, it adapts, it varies from the canon. It sings, it swears, it is syncopated by the rhythm underneath the rhythm, the love underneath the love, the rhyme underneath the rhyme, the name underneath the name, the welcome underneath the welcome, the prayer beneath the prayer. So let us pick up the stones over which we stumble, friends, and build altars. Let us listen to the sound of breath in our bodies. Let us listen to the sounds of our own voices, of our own names, of our own fears. Let us name the harsh light and soft darkness that surround us. Let’s claw ourselves out from the graves we’ve dug. Let’s lick the earth from our fingers. Let us look up and out and around. The world is big and wide and wild and wonderful and wicked, and our lives are murky, magnificent, malleable, and full of meaning. Oremus. Let us pray.

From Blossoms by Li-Young Lee

From blossoms comes
this brown paper bag of peaches
we bought from the boy
at the bend in the road where we turned toward   
signs painted Peaches.

From laden boughs, from hands,
from sweet fellowship in the bins,
comes nectar at the roadside, succulent
peaches we devour, dusty skin and all,
comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat.

O, to take what we love inside,
to carry within us an orchard, to eat
not only the skin, but the shade,
not only the sugar, but the days, to hold
the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into   
the round jubilance of peach.

There are days we live
as if death were nowhere
in the background; from joy
to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
from blossom to blossom to
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.

We Lived Happily during the War by Ilya Kaminsky

And when they bombed other people’s houses, we

protested
but not enough, we opposed them but not

enough. I was
in my bed, around my bed America

was falling: invisible house by invisible house by invisible house—

I took a chair outside and watched the sun.

In the sixth month
of a disastrous reign in the house of money

in the street of money in the city of money in the country of money,
our great country of money, we (forgive us)

lived happily during the war.

Mountain Dew Commercial Disguised as a Love Poem by Matthew Olzmann

So here’s what I’ve got, the reasons why our marriage
might work: Because you wear pink but write poems
about bullets and gravestones. Because you yell
at your keys when you lose them, and laugh,
loudly, at your own jokes. Because you can hold a pistol,
gut a pig. Because you memorize songs, even commercials
from thirty years back and sing them when vacuuming.
You have soft hands. Because when we moved, the contents
of what you packed were written inside the boxes.
Because you think swans are overrated and kind of stupid.
Because you drove me to the train station. You drove me
to Minneapolis. You drove me to Providence.
Because you underline everything you read, and circle
the things you think are important, and put stars next
to the things you think I should think are important,
and write notes in the margins about all the people
you’re mad at and my name almost never appears there.
Because you made that pork recipe you found
in the Frida Kahlo Cookbook. Because when you read
that essay about Rilke, you underlined the whole thing
except the part where Rilke says love means to deny the self
and to be consumed in flames. Because when the lights
are off, the curtains drawn, and an additional sheet is nailed
over the windows, you still believe someone outside
can see you. And one day five summers ago,
when you couldn’t put gas in your car, when your fridge
was so empty—not even leftovers or condiments—
there was a single twenty-ounce bottle of Mountain Dew,
which you paid for with your last damn dime
because you once overheard me say that I liked it.

Kindness by Naomi Shihab Nye

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.

Alice Walker

To show people how beautiful they are, you have to show them how ugly they’ve been acting.

F. Scott Fitzgerald

Show me a hero and I’ll write you a tragedy.