Mary Oliver

Mary Oliver is such a poet as speaks to our hearts, our souls, without cleverness or opaqueness. She is open, and opens our love and pain with the beautiful pictures she paints of all of the states and passions we pass through.

This, on death:

Posted by Parker J Palmer


What it is like until the other dies. And why it is more than final when gone. And why longing has new meaning, a new edge. Another part of self erased.

“I know now, after fifty years, that the finding/losing, forgetting/remembering, leaving/returning, never stops. The whole of life is about another chance, and while we are alive, till the very end, there is always another chance.”
Jeanette Winterson – Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?

Posted by Ravenous Butterflies

Richard Bergh – Nordic Summer Evening, 1899-1900


My ex-husband died. He died on 10-10-2020. For numerology purposes that’s a 6, one of the perfect numbers. It’s also part of the triad, the 3 numbers about which someone (Tesla? Ramanujan?) said, if we knew the significance of the numbers 3 6 9 we would be paralyzed with astonishment. His heart just stopped, refused to continue its designated purpose within the human body. There’s not a number for that unless you consider the (one) of its kind belonging to the person it inhabits going to a zero.

I have, since then, been trying to understand some things—unsuccessfully. I’ve played a lot of chess games against the computer. One of the first things we did, he and I, after meeting was to play a game of chess. He won.

The songs come back and play round and round. Simon and Garfunkel…”Hello darkness, my old friend…” And Scarborough Fair…”Are you going to Scarborough Fair? Remember me…for (s)he once was a true love of mine.” And he was then, once. A true love of mine.

I’ve had many miserable nightmarish dreams and a lot of unexpected pain. The dreams that are not such as that, the ones that seem filled with significance and symbols and complexity I can only partially decipher. I do get the sense of them, the sense that there is something incredible just out of reach. The most important things go into that place where there are no words.

But the finality of things, the end here on earth, of our consciousness, our ability to share with one another, that life that we shared so long ago, ended then—long ago. Still I go back there. To our children, those beautiful lovely babies that we had, the places, the rivers of our youth. Now there’s no one there to be able to say, “remember when…?”

We shared things unique to ourselves, our lives, our little family. The life we had together. The cottage on the river where we lived in La Crosse, the coffee shop we owned in Iowa City, the community theatre. We have not spoken for a long time, not directly. Our daughter shared between us, the answered questions, “How’s your dad doing?” “How’s your mom?”

But this is it. It’s over. Though it ended a long time ago. Now it’s no longer possible to continue the conversation.

The Sound of Silence.

Good-bye love

What We Have

“Being with him when he died was something I will never forget. His bravery. His happiness. His acceptance. It was a colossal experience for me. Changed my life completely in a way that I had not expected. I expected to feel sad and lost. But I felt the opposite. Just, like, ‘Boy, this is it. This is all we have. Right here. So you’d better pay attention.’”

Laurie Anderson and Lou Reed

This certainly set off a firestorm of controversy. Not the photo but the words by Anderson. Predictable things: How can she say that?! Of course there’s more than now…Heavenly, etc., Still miss my wife and I loved her for many more years than…Who is she kidding? No grief and loss? Angry rhetoric that somehow people thought was appropriate rather than trying to understand. I find those sorts of things amazing. It’s never a matter of seeking what she came to experience, but rather a diatribe about a belief system—one’s own. Oi!

Of course there were also many who believed they understood what she had to say, with or without a Heaven to come. All of a measure of one’s own life, and death.

So, she wrote of how they came to be, how their minds entangled and how they could imagine no others than each other.

How when it came time for him to die to this earth he was in ecstatic conversation with The Other, communicating in Tai Chi symbols, his hands dashing madly about in front of him, a Light that grew and emanated, and a smiling countenance that made his face seem on fire.

This gave me chills of light, of joy. A death to Celebrate, as some are.


Our poor man, dear Mr. Poe. The nightmare he feared became a sad truth when he disappeared for several days when he was 40 years old. He was found a week later, delirious and in a state of awful disrepair. A letter was sent to those who recovered him from a gutter:

“Dear Sir—There is a gentleman, rather the worse for wear, at Ryan’s 4th ward polls, who goes under the cognomen of Edgar A. Poe, and who appears in great distress, & he says he is acquainted with you, and I assure you, he is in need of immediate assistance.” Yours, in haste, Jos. W. Walker

He did reek of alcohol but it is disputed as to cause. Was he horribly beaten, and did he suffer the outcome of someone(s) pouring alcohol into and over him? Or did he indeed imbibe of his own will and suffer as a result, as some of his enemies claimed? Poe’s appearance was described as “repulsive”, with unkempt hair, a haggard, unwashed face and “lusterless and vacant” eyes. His clothing, which included a dirty shirt but no vest and unpolished shoes, was worn and did not fit well.

In any case, Poe never recovered to tell the tale of his own suffering and death. He did indeed enter deep into that darkness that he so feared.