Posted by: carolyn / through a widow's eyes | September 15, 2012

a repost: Poppies, by Mary Oliver

A repost. Because.

Today has been one year. Since the night that my world started to shift. (In a good way this time.)

Last September, I attended a spate of wakes, funerals, memorials. The first was for E. – a young man taken far too young by the same cancer that killed my husband. The second was for the late great lady M. – mother of my erstwhile sweetheart S.  We had not seen each other in 33 years. Inexplicably, unexpectedly,  out of a clear blue sky,  we fell in love, nearly overnight.

It has been a year of love and laughter, questioning and studying, observing and abiding. Hundreds of hours spent on long distance phone calls and thousands of ridiculous texts – far too much typing & Skyping.

And now, S. is here with me, and we’re a couple, learning and growing and compromising, with more to be revealed. I know that “there isn’t a place/ in this world that doesn’t/ sooner or later drown/ in the indigos of darkness.”

But. In the meantime: “Happiness/ when it’s done right/ is a kind of holiness/palpable and redemptive.”

And  “I am washed and washed/ in the river/ of earthly delight.”

[from September 2011: A month ago I found this poem in the lovely program of A Celebration of Life of E. – father, husband, son, brother, friend, teacher – and copied it down here. I knew there was a reason I didn’t hit Publish that day but rather saved it, yet at the time I didn’t know what that reason was. Now I do. “And what are you going to do- what can you do/ about it – deep,  blue night?”]


The poppies send up their

orange flares; swaying

in the wind, their congregations

are a levitation

of bright dust, of thin

and lacy leaves.

There isn’t a place

in this world that doesn’t

sooner or later drown

in the indigos of darkness,

but now, for a while,

the roughage

shines like a miracle

as it floats above everything

with its yellow hair.

Of course nothing stops the cold,

black, curved blade

from hooking forward—

of course

loss is the great lesson.

But I also say this: that light

is an invitation

to happiness,

and that happiness,

when it’s done right,

is a kind of holiness,

palpable and redemptive.

Inside the bright fields,

touched by their rough and spongy gold,

I am washed and washed

in the river

of earthly delight—

and what are you going to do—

what can you do

about it—

deep, blue night?



first poppy



  1. Love this poem, Car.


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