Last week, Mary Oliver died. Foremost among the many reasons I admired Oliver was for her accessibility. Her charm, in my opinion, was found in her ability to turn high-minded observations into bouquets of plain-speak. All great poets have a way with words. But my favorites, like Mary Oliver, allow words to reveal the way.
Like Oliver, I’ve always been enormously influenced by Walt Whitman. Whitman spent his entire life revising his magnum opus, Leaves Of Grass–a living canon if ever there was. If you haven’t picked it up lately, I encourage you to do so: it is deeply alive, jumping off the page, prescient and vital for the 21st century. Understand that Whitman was our first grass-finished poet!
Oliver, like Whitman, understood that writing requires a pulse; that words, like everything alive, ultimately result from photosynthesis. Energy is eternal. Micro is macro. The temporal is holy. To our endless delight, Mary Oliver revealed this over and over.
In honor of my favorite poets–and to provide some minor meditation in my own life–I’m starting a new weekly series called Farm Poems. I plan to write fifty-two, and see where they lead. They will be thoughts, portraits, musings and devotions to my farm, Smith Meadows, and to the daily turn of the calendar. Good poems and good farms should be synonyms. I hope you enjoy them.
Farm Poem #1
January is as constant as it can’t,
Warm with snow,
Gray with color,
Darkness blinding bright.
The creek, of course, runs on,
Rimed with ice,
Steam above the spring,
And there the watercress waits,
Tresses like fair Ophelia,
Just beneath the surface
Handsome poem, Forrest. I get something of a Wallace Stevens resonance there. One must have a mind of winter…
Yes! Haven’t read that since college—keen observation, sir 🙂
I love the softer side of the Farmer in you, Forrest – ever patient, observant, and waiting to see the next glimmer of spring through the ice at the edges of the stream and the snowflakes covering your fields. I’m so excited about your 52 weeks of poems – will be checking often to not miss even one. I’ve read each of your books and enjoyed each one. You are such a gifted writer! I hope you’re working on your next book!
Thank you! Sometimes soft, sometimes pesky… always wondering. More in the cue; appreciate the encouragement.
Enchanting! I’m very excited to have 51 more weeks of your insight and inspiration to look forward to. I miss your meat and eggs since moving to Orange County — any chance of your crew rolling down 17 to Spotsy or Fredericksburg? In any case, I expect you’ll make a poetry lover of me before you’re done. Thanks!
Very kind, thanks! No plans to expand anywhere beyond ultra-local at this point, but please come visit whenever you’re in the neighborhood 🙂