The Summer Day
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
- Mary Oliver, New and Selected Poems, 1992, Beacon Press, Boston, MA. Reprinted with permission.
Mary Oliver is one of my favorite poets. My funeral instructions include the reading of her poem White Owl Flies Into and Out of the Field, along with the playing of some Bach or Samuel Barber. (Brad has specified Pink Floyd "Dark Side of the Moon" for his memorial soundtrack. We are different from each other.)
We had intended to include this poem at the beginning of Startup Life Chapter Six: Values because of the vital questions it asks. These would be excellent starting points for conversations with your life partner over a monthly Life Dinner. It also feels lovely to have summer images during a week of bitter cold here in Colorado.