A Second Waking

The sky and sunrise–what more could I want?

The sky and sunrise–what more could I want?

1 June 2013
11:05 AM


Woke up around four in the morning, with the dark still all around me. It was as if my body was aware that I am somewhere else, that I am not home. Still, it was perhaps the deepest sleep that I’ve had in awhile. The bed may be a stranger, but god, it’s such a soft bed. Even the couch engulfs me.

(A thought comes to mind, which is something that occurs to me each time I am on a vacation: someday, invest in a bed. A really good bed. Also, pillows. And a bathtub. Building a library in my future home always comes first, of course, but next to that, I really want a bed. Sigh. Maybe I have been sleeping on the floor by the bookshelf for far too long.)

I stumbled onto the living room, fumbling for the lights. I look out the window: nothing stirs. So, a book it is, until sunrise:

Even if this is a reread, it still offers revelations

Even if this is a reread, it still offers revelations

Some excerpts from, and thoughts and marginalia on Long Life: Essays and Other Writings by Mary Oliver:

  • The love of Mary Oliver’s life is Molly Malone Cook. When she writes about her, she calls her M.
  • “Prose flows forward bravely and, often, serenely, only slowly exposing emotion…Poems are less cautious, and the voice of the poem remains somehow solitary.” (xiii)
  • “Writing poems, for me but not necessarily for others, is a way of offering praise to the world.” (xiv)
  • The first section of the book is entitled, “Flow.” Mary Oliver lives near the water, and talks about the tide, the wind, the temperature. She says, “Every day my early morning walk along the water grants me a second waking.” (3) Beautiful. How lovely, to think that. Flow. Water. Life. Consciousness. She says, “How can we not know that, already, we live in paradise?” (4) I wrote on the margin: This reinforces my desire to someday live by the sea.
  • “What does it mean, say the words, that the earth is so beautiful? And what shall I do about it? What is the gift that I should bring to the world? What is the life that I should live?” (9) I have spent many sleepless nights asking myself the same question. Mostly, I am full of doubts–am I squandering it? Wasting time? I am lost, and my fears almost equal the weight of the world. What is the life that I should live? What is my purpose? Why am I here?

I want to tell you more about this, but the day persists. I finished reading it just before breakfast, but I need more time to think. Meanwhile, here is the sky again:

Taken from another window, from another room

Taken from another window, from another room

And finally, a poem:

Can You Imagine?
Mary Oliver

For example, what the trees do
not only in lightning storms
or the watery dark of a summer night
or under the white nets of winter
but now, and now, and now–whenever
we’re not looking. Surely you can’t imagine
they just stand there looking the way they look
when we’re looking; surely you can’t imagine
they don’t dance, from the root up, wishing
to travel a little, not cramped so much as wanting
a better view, or more sun, or just as avidly
more shade–surely you can’t imagine they just
stand there loving every
minute of it, the birds or the emptiness, the dark rings
of the years slowly and without a sound
thickening, and nothing different unless the wind,
and then only in its own mood, comes
to visit, surely you can’t imagine
patience, and happiness, like that.

Good morning, my dear.



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