Wednesday, March 18, 2015

the poem i will read at my funeral*

Death, whoever and whatever you are, tallest king of tall kings, grant me these wishes: unstring my bones; let me be not one thing but all things


Goodbye to the swaying trees. 
Goodbye to the black triangles of the winter sea. 
Goodbye to oranges, the prick of their fragrance. 
Goodbye to the fox sparrow, 
goodbye to the blue-winged teal. 
Goodbye to lettuce, and the pale turnip,
and the gatherings of the rice fields. 
Goodbye to the wavering light. 
Goodbye to the goldfinches
                 and their wavering songs. 


Listen, I don't think we're going to rise
in gauze and halos. 
Maybe as grass, and slowly. 
Maybe as the long-leaved, beautiful grass

I have known, and you have known--
or the pine trees--
or the dark rocks of the zigzag creek
     hastening along--

or the silver rain-- 

or the hummingbird. 


I look up
into the faces of the stars, 
into their deep silence. 


This is the poem of goodbye. 
And this is the poem of don't know. 

My hands touch the lilies
then withdraw;

my hands touch the blue iris
then withdraw;

and I say, not easily but carefully--
the words round in the mouth, crisp on the tongue-- 

dirt, mud, stars, water--
I know you as if you were myself. 

How could I be afraid? 


What is it I need to know? 

What is it I don't know that I need to know? 


Think of me
when you see the evening star. 
Think of me when you see the wren
    the flowing root of the creek beneath him, 
    dark,       silver        and cold

Remember me I am the one who told you
he sings for happiness. 
I am the one who told you 
that the grass is also alive, and listening. 

allelujah allelujah
sighs the pale green moth
on the screen door, 

alleluja allelujah
the red tongues of the white swans
shine out of their black beaks
as they shout
as their wings rise and fall

rise and fall

oh rise and fall

*All excerpted from "the leaf and the cloud" by Mary Oliver

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