I’ve always been a great admirer of the poetry and writings of Mary Oliver. The other day I was going through some notes of mine and came across these words of hers – deeply touching. Sadly, she died in January 2019.
“When it’s over, I want to say: all my life I was a bride married to amazement. I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.”
He was large, full of unbridled brawn, sporting a high and tight crew cut, a gold chain around his neck and a presence dominating the smiling faces around him.
I gave the photograph back to her and looked at the shrunken figure lying in the bed. Was it really the same man? She, on the other hand, was small, cautious and surrounded by a tragic air of subservience.
Three weeks later they held the Church service for him. For the first time in ten years, she hesitantly got behind the steering wheel of their car, feeling strangely free, yet guilty for feeling that way.
Dry leaves and twigs crunched under his boots as he stomped his way through the bright reds and yellows of Autumn. The path had petered out and he was struggling to find a new one.
He stopped, took a breath and listened for some familiar sound. What if he couldn’t find his way out of these woods? His mobile was in the car and nobody knew where he was. His stomach tightened.
Suddenly, the silence was broken by a cawing crow. He saw the bird a little way from him hopping on a gnarled branch of an old Oak. He saw the sparkle in its eye as it jerkingly scanned the ground. The behaviour was strange, but a welcomed distraction from his rising panic.
He stepped carefully, not so much as to not scare the crow, but rather to cautiously examine what it found so unsettling on the ground. Nothing caught his eye. What he did find, though, to his great relief, was a path – a new path that finally led him out of the woods.
The train bursts in with a wind and a whine. Doors open, people pour out, others push in, each knowing where they’re going. No aimless wandering and vague stares on tube stations, only direction, movement and purpose.I’m caught up in the human flow going up and coming down the elevators. I catch myself joining a myriad of glances across streams of passing lives. I reach the exit. I touch my card and the gates bang open. Above me the city waits.