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Farewell to Mary Oliver


By now, many of us are sadly aware that Mary Oliver, Provincetown’s Pulitzer-winning poet, passed way earlier today at home in Home Sound, Florida, at the age of 83.

According to her Facebook page, “Her poetry developed in close communion with the landscapes she knew best, the rivers and creeks of her native Ohio, and, after 1964, the ponds, beech forests, and coastline of her chosen hometown, Provincetown.”

I never had the privilege of meeting Mary Oliver. When I saw the news earlier, my mind flashed back to a 2015 walk hosted by the Eastham Hiking Club at Provincetown’s Beech Forest trail, which circles around her beloved Blackwater Pond.

EHC walk leader Mark McGrath started off that jaunt on that Thanksgiving Eve morning by reading Oliver’s poem, At Blackwater Pond:

At Blackwater Pond the tossed waters have settled after a night of rain. I dip my cupped hands. I drink a long time. It tastes like stone, leaves, fire. It falls cold into my body, waking the bones. I hear them deep inside me, whispering oh what is that beautiful thing that just happened?

Click here to hear Oliver reading the poem.


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© 2020 by Don Wilding.

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