On Mary Oliver – Poetry by RC James

All night the meadow larks mourned,
eased you away from the forest spirits
you nurtured so long.

The breeze at 4 in the morning
slowed in quiet dance to accompany
you on your way.

The steadfast other you addressed
in your poems took your acquiescence
to what you ceased to call horrible,

what you viewed as a mysterious venture,
as their final lesson, instructions
for the way beyond.

The snow geese, the rabbits, the deer,
all followed the same patterns you knew,
through the wilderness you made your studio,

you left quietly, not disturbing habits
and rituals that now named you a part.
None of them understood your words,

but readers by parlor lamp study them
as if from a curator of the light inside
every last creature you’d learned to love.


About the Poet

RC James is a veteran of the 60’s struggles, served as the literary editor
of the Leavenworth Disciplinary Barracks magazine, and is a student of
the Blues, having learned as much as he could from Mance Lipscomb
in Navasota, Texas. Presently lives in Albuquerque, and performs music
and poetry at local venues.

For the first time in nearly five years, Vita Brevis is closed for submission. Read the full story here.

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