Sunday 20 January 2019

Ropes Let Down to the Lost

I went down to the sea late this afternoon. The sun was setting in pools of pink gold behind me, but as I walked around the headland, the sky was a wash of early evening blues and greys and lavender, hazed with clouds, and with a vast moon rising: luminous, silver-gilt, almost full. The mountains behind the bay just lightly sketched - mist on mist.
The sea itself was pale, the way it goes at dusk, strangely colourless, but magical.

I needed some air.
I needed to clear away the weekend's cobwebs, and the dogs were only too happy to keep me company. We went in silence, just the rush of the high tide chasing itself into the bay, the clatter of dragging stones as the big waves receded. Nothing else.
It was cold, but we didn't hurry, it was too beautiful to leave.
I wished I'd taken a camera. Even my phone with its cracked screen.

The crisp breeze soon cleared the tangles in my head. Tangles, mostly, of other peoples' problems - as if my own weren't enough! Cold air is very cleansing. 

And then, into the stillness slipped Mary Oliver.
As she so often does - her words slip in so easily.
She died this week, that wonderful poet.
I hope she is even now considering her eternity 'as another possibility'.

Perhaps standing on the prow of the headland, staring into the darkening, busy waves brought her back to me:

'I go down to the shore in the morning
and depending on the hour the waves
are rolling in or moving out,
and I say, oh, I am miserable,
what shall—
what should I do? And the sea says
in its lovely voice:
Excuse me, I have work to do.'

Or perhaps she was in my mind anyway, having just left us.

With Model Dog leaning her comforting weight against my legs in the long, rough grass, the second thought came swiftly on the heels of the first - how could it not, while I was standing there in the gloaming, with that mauve-brindled sky and the childishly perfect moon.

'Sometimes I need only to stand wherever I am to be blessed.'

As I put the dogs back into the car, it was inevitable that, having brought her to mind, her most poignant lines of all echoed through my head, as they often do - so very often, many a time with more than a hint of reproach:

'Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?'   

What indeed?

With time spooling out behind me and all.
But while I try to puzzle that one out, I can only be grateful for what you did with yours, Mary.

'...poems are not words, after all, but fires for the cold, ropes let down to the lost, something as necessary as bread in the pockets of the hungry.'

The rooks were going to bed by moonlight as I got home



  1. Oh Lorley. Words to dream by. Thank you. X

    1. Thank you. Mary Oliver certainly fits that bill!

  2. Now I must search out Mary Oliver since I had not been introduced to her poetry before now. Thank you.

  3. You're very welcome. You have treats in store!

  4. Thanks for introducing me to Mary Oliver! I have bought an e-book of hers immediately!

  5. That's great Sabine. I know you will enjoy her work. Lots of books to choose from!

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  7. Very poignant Lol. Word-painted canvass. Masterpieces as always.

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