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  • Denise Frakes

Not yet half perfect...

Updated: Feb 26, 2023

I'm not exactly sure when first heard Mary Oliver. I met her on a women's pilgrimage to Iona Scotland, Gretchen and Lesley read Mary there. I also knew of Mary from the time I spent at Harmony Hill, in Union Washington. In the beginning, Mary felt like a poet I should like. I should like poetry and I should "get" her work. But I didn't. Maybe it wasn't time, or my mind was too busy to settle in on a poem. I don't know.

And then one day...a sort of lightbulb went off. For over a year, I've been running a weekly online clutter clearing circle. Each week, I find quotes, sayings, or poems to share. It's been during this last year that I started to feel Mary's poems.

Who knows why one day a spark hits and we wake up. This is how a good poem is. I'm sharing with you one of my favorites. When I feel less than...not quiet half perfect, I think of this poem and smile.

Read this poem, slowly. Tuck it into into your back pocket for those days when you feel less than stelar. And know there is a world of imperfect souls out there- kindred spirits of imperfection. Keep Paddling, Denise


My work is loving the world.

Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird-

equal seekers of sweetness.

Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.

Here the clam deep in speckled sand.

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?

Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect?

Let me keep my mind on what matters,

which is my work.

which is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished.

The phoebe, the delphinium.

The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.

Which is mostly rejoicing, since all the ingredients are here,

which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart

and those body-clothes,

a mouth with which to give shouts of joy

to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,

telling them all, over and over, how it is

that we live forever.

Mary Oliver

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