In celebration of high summer & my first waterlily bloom . . . a poem by Mary Oliver

Jan 19, 2020
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Nashville, TN
Hardiness Zone
United States

It is hot, hot, hot here in Nashville, but my wildlife pond (not quite three months old) is abuzz with dragonflies coastal blue in their color. The crimson red of the cardinal flowers are coming into their own and hummingbirds are starting to notice. And in the midst of it all, a surprise: a couple of days ago, my first ever waterlily bloom emerged. It's a dwarf Helvola and since its arrival, two more buds have appeared. So I'm getting, if not a school of them, at least a trio.

So in honor of my waterlilies—and in celebration of summer and all of us who are besieged with imperfections big or small in our gardens and ponds (and in our lives), I offer this poem by Mary Oliver. Despite all the troubles going on in the world, it's a wondrous thing to be here and to be able to witness what unfolds each day.

The Ponds

by Mary Oliver

Every year
the lilies
are so perfect
I can hardly believe

their lapped light crowding
the black,
mid-summer ponds.
Nobody could count all of them --

the muskrats swimming
among the pads and the grasses
can reach out
their muscular arms and touch

only so many, they are that
rife and wild.
But what in this world
is perfect?

I bend closer and see
how this one is clearly lopsided --
and that one wears an orange blight --
and this one is a glossy cheek

half nibbled away --
and that one is a slumped purse
full of its own
unstoppable decay.

Still, what I want in my life
is to be willing
to be dazzled --
to cast aside the weight of facts

and maybe even
to float a little
above this difficult world.
I want to believe I am looking

into the white fire of a great mystery.
I want to believe that the imperfections are nothing --
that the light is everything -- that it is more than the sum
of each flawed blossom rising and fading. And I do.




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