Around me the trees stir in their leaves


Today began with a foul mood. This is rare. I’m generally a happy person; I’m not often sad or depressed. I think the gray is getting to me, and the little and large heart-breaks caught up this morning.

Determined not to be defeated, especially since the sun has returned, I’m going to break with my habit and schedule and head outside before I go get my windshield replaced (smashed by a fallen branch during yesterdays gale), then head off to teach my manuscript workshop at Poetry Forge this evening.

Before I go, I’ll share the poem that helped me see what I needed to do. Over lunch on Monday, my friend, collaborator, and fellow friend of trees,  Melanie Mowinski mentioned this poem to me. Today is the day I needed it:

When I Am Among the Trees

When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.

I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,
“and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine.”

—Mary Oliver

Go here to read some commentary about each stanza.


Indeed, even revisiting these photos from a recent hike on Pony Mountain makes me feel better.


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  • Melanie

    Ah, I’m so glad it came at the right time. And that you linked to the Marquette commentary…what a glorious piece of writing, and how it makes me want to stay in the woods forever.

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