Poet Jane Hirshfield said "... the feeling I have about poem-writing (is) that it is always an exploration, of discovering something I didn't already know.  Who I am shifts from moment to moment, year to year.  What I can perceive does as well.  A new poem peers into mystery, into whatever lies just beyond the edge of knowable ground."

I bring a different poem to the writing classes each week, not only to inspire but to introduce new poets to the group members.

I Happened to be Standing by Mary Oliver

I don't know where prayers go,
  or what they do. 
Do cats pray, while they sleep      
   half-asleep in the sun? 
Does the opossum pray as it      
   crosses the street? 
The sunflowers? The old black oak      
   growing older every year? 
I know I can walk through the world,      
   along the shore or under the trees, 
with my mind filled with things      
   of little importance, in full 
self-attendance. A condition I can't really      
   call being alive 
Is a prayer a gift, or a petition,      
   or does it matter? 
The sunflowers blaze, maybe that's their way. 
Maybe the cats are sound asleep. Maybe not.  

While I was thinking this I happened to be standing 
just outside my door, with my notebook open, 
which is the way I begin every morning. 
Then a wren in the privet began to sing. 
He was positively drenched in enthusiasm, 
I don't know why. And yet, why not. 
I wouldn't persuade you from whatever you believe 
or whatever you don't. That's your business. 
But I thought, of the wren's singing, what could this be      
   if it isn't a prayer? 
So I just listened, my pen in the air.

~ from A Thousand Mornings (The Penguin Press, 2012)


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