Posts Tagged ‘appreciating nature’

Mary Oliver’s Summer Day is filled with wonder

June 23, 2014

The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean–
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down,
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.

I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

~ Mary Oliver ~

(New and Selected Poems, Volume I)

Related: Mary Oliver’s poem, Praying, is a lesson on attention, receptivity, listening and writing.

Other poems: The Journey by Mary Oliver | Wild Geese by Mary Oliver, photo by Ken West | Varanasi by Mary Oliver in A Thousand Mornings.

Nature’s Bi-Cycle, a poem from/for the child in us

August 8, 2013

I wrote a poem the first day on my job working for the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation as a paper-picker in Queen Elizabeth Park. It was in the mid-1990’s, during the wintertime. The job kept me active, walking miles each day, spent mostly in nature, in a beautiful park setting. And I made more money doing that than teaching kids writing after school at a Sylvan Learning Center in North Vancouver. It was what I needed at the time. But that’s a whole other story.

The park attendant would leave each year to go to California for the winter. Some friends who had done the job for him the previous winter introduced us. A fellow poet and a meditator (not TM), we shared common interests. He offered me the job and said I could stay in the caretaker facility he lived in across the street from Q.E. Park in Hillsdale Park. In exchange I would cover his utilities. I just had to get his boss’s approval, who did hire me, but wasn’t happy about the arrangement. He said there were people ahead of me in line for such a hard-to-come-by job. But it worked out well and he later hired me for the summer in Stanley Park when the caretaker returned from California.

I was lucky to get that prized job, doing simple work, like cleaning the park facilities and picking up trash. I also appreciated the beautiful park settings and composed poems as I walked the grounds. I actually amused myself that first day. I thought of how things grew from seed to tree, and their interrelationships with the animals. Dark berries turned white in winter and the birds who ate them caught my attention as I thought of the cycles in nature.

My inner child loved composing and hearing the sounds and meanings of the words. Every time I shared this poem with kids, they’d squeal with delight! Maybe the child in you will like it too.


Berries are meant to be eaten by birds
who poop out the seeds contained in their turds
this process prepares seeds to sprout in the spring
’til one day they’re trees and in them birds sing

© Ken Chawkin

Read Park Poems from Ken Chawkin for more details on this story and other poems inspired from Q.E. Park and others I visited in the Greater Vancouver area.

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