What I am Not (For Mary)

This poem is dedicated to my favorite Virgo naturalist poet, Mary Oliver.  It can be seen as a personal literary response to two of my favorite poems: Wild Geese & When Death Comes.  Thank you Mary, you touch us all with the grace of your words.

photo by Marisa White

What I am Not

(For Mary)


I am tired of being good.

What I want is


To howl

a sound



and furious 


To paint 

the melancholy of my dreams

in the horizon

and grieve properly 

the death of the moon

with daily reverence


I don’t want to be good.


What I need is 


To give free

and generous

until my hands are 



and lifeless


To birth

the visions of my heart

so completely

that one day

I am 


and can disappear


What I wish is


To leave 

this earth 

still dripping

in sweat

and tears 


and whole

at the same time


To arrive

at the edge

of my life

with scars

and crevices

So deep

that the gods will see

i did the work

I was meant to


I will never be good.


What I am is


An animal of nature

with a song

inside me


as 1,000 suns 

whose cry

is as piercing

as the darkest

night of winter


I am a wild but steady creature 

of the earth

with a wellspring 

of desire to 

to live 


A curious life 

so full and loved

That my last words

Will be: 

I’m not finished.



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