my new favorite: national poem in your pocket day

 It's 'national poem in your pocket day' which is maybe the best holiday I've ever heard of.

I'm not wearing any pockets, but I'm printing out my favorite anyway. I have dinner plans with two fantastic women tonight and will tuck it into my wallet, if I'm still pocket-less when I leave.

I was never a huge poetry person, especially nature poetry, but Mary Oliver slipped into my life easily: poignant and unabashed, I just love her.

Here is my poem for today. It seems fitting given the recent snow emerging - over and under spring's great push; and because we visited my parents home last weekend and I swear Mary O is talking about the forest behind their house; and really just because this is an all time favorite.

Skunk Cabbage
And now as the iron rinds over
the ponds start dissolving,
you come, dreaming of ferns and flowers
and new leaves unfolding,
upon the brash
turnip-hearted skunk cabbage
slinging its bunches leaves up
through the chilling mud.
You kneel beside it. The smell
is lurid and flows out in the most
unabashed way, attracting
into itself a continual spattering
of protein. Appalling its rough
green caves, and the thought
of the thick root nested below, stubborn
and powerful as instinct!
But these are the woods you love,
where the secret name
of every death is life again - a miracle
wrought surely not of mere turning
but of dense and scalding reenactment. Not
tenderness, not longing, but daring and brawn
pull down the frozen waterfall, the past.
Ferns, leaves, flowers, the last subtle
refinements, elegant and easeful, wait
to rise and flourish.
What blazes the trail is not necessarily pretty.

Mary Oliver


Please post yours... 


  1. You are so lovely. You inspired me: http://thesheckspot.blogspot.com/2010/04/put-poem-in-your-pocket.html

    But the real answer is here:
    It Is That Dream
    by Olav Hague

    It's that dream we carry with us
    That something wonderful will happen,
    That it has to happen,
    That time will open,
    That the heart will open,
    That doors will open,
    That the mountains will open up,
    That wells will leap up,
    That the dream will open,
    That one morning we'll slip in
    To a harbor that we've never known.

  2. Yay! Great idea to blog your poem. I have been holed up studying all day, so this is a good way to share the holiday.

    My poem is long enough that the line breaks don't work in the comments section: http://writersalmanac.publicradio.org/index.php?date=2009/11/24

    I picked it because it was in the writers almanac and stuck in my head.

  3. The poem in my pocket was, "What I Understood," by Katha Pollitt.

    When I was a child I understood everything
    about, for example, futility. Standing for hours
    on the hot asphalt outfield, trudging for balls
    I'd ask myself, how many times will I have to perform
    this pointless task, and all the others? I knew
    about snobbery, too, and cruelty—for children
    are snobbish and cruel—and loneliness: in restaurants
    the dignity and shame of solitary diners
    disabled me, and when my grandmother
    screamed at me, "Someday you'll know what it's like!"
    I knew she was right, the way I knew
    about the single rooms my teachers went home to,
    the pictures on the dresser, the hoard of chocolates,
    and that there was no God, and that I would die.
    All this I understood, no one needed to tell me.
    the only thing I didn't understand
    was how in a world whose predominant characteristics
    are futility, cruelty, loneliness, disappointment
    people are saved every day
    by a sparrow, a foghorn, a grassblade, a tablecloth.
    This year I'll be
    thirty-nine, and I still don't understand it.

  4. I love these! & hope people will post more, even if they're not in your pocket. Any old poem from any old place will do.