Likely Stories: Felicity by Mary Oliver

Mar 9, 2017

Another emotional, lovely, gentle collection of poetry by Mary Oliver.


I’m Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and biographies.

It seems as though every time I go to a bookstore, I stumble upon a new poetry collection by Mary Oliver.  No discussions this time.  Rather I am going to offer as many poems as I can squeeze into three minutes from Felicity by Mary Oliver.

Walking to Indian River – “I’m ready for spring, but it hasn’t arrived. / Not yet. / Still I take my walk, looking for any / early enhancements. / It’s mostly attitude.  I’m certain / I’ll see something. / I start down the path, peering in / all directions. / The mangroves, as always, are standing in their / beloved water, / their new leaves very small and tender / and pale. / And, look! the way the rising sun / strikes them, / they could be flowers / opening!” (5).

Moments – There are moments that cry out to be fulfilled. / Like, telling someone you love them. / Or giving your money away, all of it. // Your heart is beating, isn’t it? / You’re not in chains, are you? // There is nothing more pathetic than caution / when headlong might save a life, / even, possibly, your own.” (9)

Nothing Is Too Small Not to Be Wondered About – “The cricket doesn’t wonder / if there’s a heaven / or, if there is, if there’s room for him. // It’s fall.  Romance is over.  Still, he sings. / If he can, he enters a house / through the tiniest crack under the door. / Then the house grows colder. // He sings slower and slower. / Then, nothing. // This must mean something, I don’t know what. / But certainly it doesn’t mean / he hasn’t been an excellent cricket / all his life” (27).

That Little Beast – “That pretty little beast, a poem, / has a mind of its own. / Sometimes I want it to crave apples / but it wants red meat. / Sometimes I want to walk peacefully / on the shore / and it wants to take off all its clothes / and dive in. // Sometimes I want to sum up and give thanks, / putting things in order / and it starts dancing around the room / on its four furry legs, laughing / and calling me outrageous. // But sometimes, when I’m thinking about you, / and no doubt smiling / it sits down quietly, one paw under its chin, / and just listens.” (57-58).

Not Anyone Who Says – “Not anyone who says, ‘I’m going to be / careful and smart in matters of love,” / who says, ‘I’m going to choose slowly,’ / but only those lovers who didn’t choose at all / but were, as it were, chosen / by something invisible / and powerful and uncontrollable / and beautiful and possibly even / unsuitable -- / only those know what I am talking about / in this talking about love.” (65).

I Don’t Want to Lose – “I don’t want to lose a single thread / from the intricate brocade of this happiness. / I want to remember everything. / Which is why I am lying awake, sleepy / but not sleepy enough to give it up. / Just now, a moment from years ago: / the early morning light, the deft, sweet / gesture of your hand / reaching for me.”  (73).

Thank you Mary Oliver for touching my heart on nearly every page of Felicity.  5 stars

Likely Stories is a production of KWBU.  I’m Jim McKeown.  You can read more at RabbitReaderBlog.com.  Join me again next time for Likely Stories, and HAPPY READING!