In Blackwater Woods
by Mary Oliver
To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.
view the whole poem here
This has been my autumn friend, accompanying me on my poem-speaking river walks.
This morning, after two nights of frost, our gorgeous ginko tree began to drop its leaves like green rain. Within two hours, the tree was bare and my steps were carpeted with tiny jade fans.
In autumn, my favourite season, I am reminded each year that there is dying in the natural world and sometimes even among those I love. I do love what is mortal – my own life and that of so many who touch me. And I also believe my own life depends on this loving, taking it deeply into my heart, my bones.
And when the times comes, hard as it is, I must let mortal beings go, just as my tree lets go of part of it. I may not have the grace and ease of a ginko, and I don’t believe that a tree grieves what is lost as I do, but I can look at those empty branches and remind myself that to live in this world, I must be able to do these things.
Perhaps Mary Oliver’s poem may help you, too, to live in this world.