I think it was about a year ago that I heard Garrison Keillor read this poem on "The Writers' Almanac" one morning. I was driving at the time, so I couldn't make note of the title of the poem or of the author. I remember getting home and searching through the Writers' Almanac archives on NPR's website… No luck.
Today, it occurred to me to google the words that I remembered…the last line of the poem, as it happens. And I struck paydirt.
Long Afternoon at the
Edge of Little Sister Pond
As for life,
I'm without words
sufficient to say
how it has been hard as flint,
and soft as a spring pond,
both of these
and over and over,
and long pale afternoons besides,
and so many mysteries
beautiful as eggs in a nest,
though warm and watched over
by something I have never seen -
a tree angel, perhaps,
or a ghost of holiness.
Every day I walk out into the world
to be dazzled, then to be reflective.
It suffices, it is all comfort -
along with human love,
dog love, water love, little-serpent love,
sunburst love, or love for that smallest of birds
flying among the scarlet flowers.
There is hardly time to think about
stopping, and lying down at last
to the long afterlife, to the tenderness
yet to come, when
time will brim over the singular pond, and become forever,
and we will pretend to melt away into the leaves.
As for death,
I can't wait to be the hummingbird,
~ Mary Oliver ~
I want to memorize these lines, and when the thought of my mortality threatens to overwhelm me, I want to think, "I can't wait to be the hummingbird…"