Friday, September 18, 2009

The Body and Spirit

It seems that every time I hear a poem I like I find out that it was written by Mary Oliver. What spoke to me in this poem, which is untitled, is the idea of the spirit embodied. The body, so often in our culture is considered inferior. It is so often thought to be something we have rather than something we are. But what is our spirit if not for our body?


An untitled poem by Mary Oliver

The spirit
likes to dress up like this:
ten fingers,
ten toes,

shoulders, and all the rest
at night
in the black branches,
in the morning

in the blue branches
of the world.
It could float, of course,
but would rather

plumb rough matter.
Airy and shapeless thing,
it needs
the metaphor of the body,

lime and appetite,
the oceanic fluids;
it needs the body's world,

and imagination
and the dark hug of time,
and tangibility,

to be understood,
to be more than pure light
that burns
where no one is --

so it enters us --
in the morning
shines from brute comfort
like a stitch of lightning;

and at night
lights up the deep and wondrous
drownings of the body
like a star.

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