The first poem I ever emailed to her was a Mary Oliver poem called the Book. It’s about lilies, and, of course, about love.
Lilies — as tall as ourselves and more lovely,
and full of fragrance, and long orange tongues,
and those playthings the bees — stood in
a neighbor’s yard, a thick, ramping
hedge of them. You could not help but see
that to be beautiful is also to be simple
and brief; is to rise up and be glorious, and then vanish;
is to be silent but as though a song was in you only it
hasn’t yet been heard
For almost two years, she has been that lily for me. Simple. Beautiful. Together we rose up, and it was glorious. She helped me learn what the song is inside of me. She heard it. She held it. She danced with it.
Now, she is working on learning what the song is inside of her. “Can you fully love someone before you’ve learned to fully love yourself?” the poet once asked.
To be brief and to be glorious. To be tall and more lovely. To be full of fragrance. To rise up and then vanish. Perhaps that is the work of lilies. Perhaps that is the work of love.
In the winter, the petals fall to the ground and the silence feels louder than the song. The long orange tongue stops talking. The bees stop dancing. And yet, and yet.
Didn’t that orange tongue hold some seeds that also fell? Her banana pancake smile, her stardust hair, her sequoia redwood dreams? Did they land on the soil I am becoming a part of? Were they watered from the winter of my tears? Will they grow into something tall, something lovely, something full of fragrance? Simple and beautiful.
The last poem I sent to her was a Mary Oliver poem. It’s about Snow Geese, and, of course, love.
Oh, to love what is lovely, and will not last!
What a task
of anything, or anyone,
yet it is ours,
and not by the century or the year, but by the hours.
One fall day I heard
above me, and above the sting of the wind, a sound
I did not know, and my look shot upward; it was
a flock of snow geese, winging it
faster than the ones we usually see,
and, being the color of snow, catching the sun
so they were, in part at least, golden. I
held my breath
as we do
to stop time
when something wonderful
has touched us
as with a match,
which is lit, and bright,
but does not hurt
in the common way,
as if delight
were the most serious thing
you ever felt.
I have never seen them again.
Maybe I will, someday, somewhere.
Maybe I won’t.
It doesn’t matter.
is that, when I saw them,
I saw them
as through the veil, secretly, joyfully, clearly.