The soft animal of your body.
This week’s poem is by queer poet Mary Oliver. It is one of my favourite poems by her because it talks about the ease with which we have the ability to exist in this world. Not through repentance but through the acceptance of our own humanity. At the time of year when the world feels like it has ground to a halt, this is a much needed reminder. We don’t find belonging through ideals and gestures; we find it through our imagination and ability to be with what is.
So how are you creating your place in the family of things?
By Mary Oliver
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.