Friday, July 24, 2015


by Mary Oliver

It doesn't have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don't try
to make them elaborate, this isn't
a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.

"I Happened to Be Standing" 
by Mary Oliver

I don't know where prayers go,
     or what they do.
Do cats pray, while they sleep
     half-asleep in the sun?
Does the opossum pray as it
     crosses the street?
The sunflowers? The old black oak
     growing older every year?
I know I can walk through the world,
     along the shore or under the trees,
with my mind filled with things
     of little importance, in full
self-attendance. A condition I can't really
     call being alive.
Is prayer a gift, or a petition,
     or does it matter?

You can hear Mary Oliver read the rest of this poem here. 

And here is an NPR interview with Mary Oliver.

Margaret is hosting Poetry Friday at Reflections on the Teche today.


Rebecca Gomez said...

I love this line:

"and a silence in which
another voice may speak."

Thanks for sharing these!

Anonymous said...

I didn't know either of these poems, so thanks for sharing, Carol. They will stay with me.

Catherine Flynn said...

Mary Oliver is amazing. She captures such profound ideas with such seemingly simple words and lines. Thank you for sharing these beauties today!

Linda B said...

She does it right, doesn't she, speaks/writes so eloquently. I love that second poem, all the ways prayer can be.

Ramona said...

Two great poems by Mary Oliver - "the doorway into thanks," wonderful way to think about prayer. "I Happened to Be Standing," a new poem for me. Thanks, love the pic of the irises.

Mary Lee said...

Thanks for these two poems, and all the rest of the prayers over the past weeks.

Doraine said...

Two wonderful poems. Thanks for sharing.

Margaret Simon said...

Mary Oliver is my favorite poet. The simple way she says such a profound thing. "I happen to be standing" opens your eyes to the possiblity of a single moment. How does she do it?

Irene Latham said...

Yes, prayer can be as simple as paying attention. Love this reminder. Thank you!