When a Poet Dies


When a Poet Dies

are unfinished poems left behind, never
to be completed? Poems unwritten, held
only in thought, lost forever? Do verses
not encountered still await discovery?

When a poet dies are earth and heaven
still watching? Does the world continue
to offer itself to imagination, the unimaginable —
open to hungry curiosity, wonderment, and
whimsy? Are the worthy themes captured
by those who awaken before dawn with
fresh minds and clear thoughts, searching
for exact words, large with meaning, ordering
them precisely in the right direction?

When a poet dies will we continue to
pay attention, eyes cast from scene to scene,
taking in the perfect, stone-hard beauty of everything?
Will young poets in distressed jeans and
canted berets gather in cafes and coffee shops —
eager minds arranging words, expressing their
humanity, toning their one wild and precious life?

When a poet dies might dreamers still hike the
tawny countryside, share open fields with
glittering clouds of yellow butterflies? Melodies
in the airy silence.

On some gray evening will a curious poet,
aimless, like a cloud drifting, stroll lakeside
in the cool mist while the loon cries out the
long, sweet savoring of its sacred life — God,
unseen, distant — divinity felt, entirely?

When a poet dies will some lone wanderer on
a morning walk stop at Blackwater Pond, kneel,
and with cupped hands drink deeply of the cold
water, taste the stone, leaves, fire?
*****
Mary Oliver 1935-2019

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Mary Oliver passed away in 2019