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Posted by Michael Finkelstein | February 4th, 2019

When Death Comes – A Tribute to Mary Oliver

Each month, in this “MoonLetter,” I try to capture a concept and distribute it along with some of my own thoughts and reflection. I truly hope they are of some benefit. Indeed, I sincerely care about its meaning and value, and spend some time with it, in preparation. This is a creative process, one that is also good for my soul as it is an expression of my personal interest and investment in helping others. I try especially, to be original, so that what you read might bring something new to light.

This month, however, I am choosing to depart from this plan and simply publish a poem by a person who in her own way has captured moments with incredible mastery; who has been an inspiration to me to do the same ever since. Her passing in the past lunar cycle makes this an attempt at a suitable tribute, and I hope to support the legacy of her lifelong learning and expression of wisdom, so we may all, individually and collectively, reach a place of splendor in the fulfillment of our life’s plan. Here’s to you Mary Oliver:

When Death Comes

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox

when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,
tending, as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.

When it’s over, I want to say all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.

I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.

Mitakuye Oyasin,

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