On July 4, 2010, poet Mary Oliver found a whale bone on the beach and wrote a poem about it. Eight years ago, she forged just the right poem for this summer day as as always giving it a bigger view.
A poem full of ‘looking, and touching, and loving’ seems a fine way to celebrate independence.
Bone July 4, 2010
Understand, I am always trying to figure out
What the soul is,
And where hidden,
And what shape-
And so, last week,
When I found on the beach
The ear bone
Of a pilot whale that may have died
Hundreds of years ago, I thought
Maybe I was close
To discovering something-
For the ear bone
Is the portion that lasts longest
In any of us, man or whale…
And I thought: the soul
Might be like this-
So hard, so necessary-
Yet almost nothing
The gray sea
Was opening and shutting its wave-doors..
I looked but couldn’t see anything
Through its dark-knit glare;
Yet don’t we all know, the golden sand
Is there at the bottom,
Though our eyes have never seen it,
Nor can our hands ever catch it.
Lest we would sift it down
Into fractions, and facts-
And what the soul is, also
I believe I will never quite know.
Though I play at the edges of knowing,
Truly I know
Our part is not knowing,
But looking, and touching, and loving,
Which is the way I walked on,
Through the pale-pink morning light.
Wishing you a joyous Fourth!
We’ll be back on Monday…
Top photo: Eva Varga of The Well Traveled Family.