the center of everything


oil on linen



In a private collection

sold through Edgewater Gallery

Mary Oliver’s poems have been accumulating in my brain.
About two years ago I decided to try to memorize poems in
order sharpen my brain working while I’m jogging each day.
The effort to learn the intricacies and exact turns of phrase
has been a challenge I regret to say I generally fail at miserably.
I soldier on, relearning all over again. The poem,
‘Where Does the Dance Begin, Where Does It End?’
has a lovely line about ‘looking to the center of everything,
the seed, the egg, the idea.’ I find looking through open barn
doors and getting a glimpse of light through the darkness uplifts my spirit.

Don’t call this world adorable, or useful, that’s not it.
It’s frisky, and a theater for more than fair winds.
The eyelash of lightning is neither good nor evil.
The struck tree burns like a pillar of gold.

But the blue rain sinks, straight to the white
feet of the trees
whose mouths open.
Doesn’t the wind, turning in circles, invent the dance?
Haven’t the flowers moved, slowly, across Asia, then Europe,
until at last, now, they shine
in your own yard?

Don’t call this world an explanation, or even an education.

When the Sufi poet whirled, was he looking
outward, to the mountains so solidly there
in a white-capped ring, or was he looking

to the center of everything: the seed, the egg, the idea
that was also there,
beautiful as a thumb
curved and touching the finger, tenderly,
little love-ring,

as he whirled,
oh jug of breath,
in the garden of dust?