This is the first episode of our poetry podcast, The Versed. Nora Frazin & Rachel Fields discuss "Wild Geese" by Mary Oliver, "Death, the Last Visit" by Marie Howe, and the times they have written to celebrities and/or corporations to no avail.
by Mary Oliver
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting --
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
Death, The Last Visit
by Marie Howe
Hearing a low growl in your throat, you’ll know that it’s started.
It has nothing to ask you. It has only something to say, and
it will speak in your own tongue.
Locking its arms around you, it will hold you as long
as you ever wanted.
Only this time it will be long enough. It will not let go.
Burying your face in its dark shoulder, you’ll smell mud and hair
You’ll taste your mother’s sour nipple, your favorite salty cock
and swallow a word you thought you’d spit out once and be done with.
Through half-closed eyes you’ll see that its shadow looks like yours,
a perfect fit. You could weep with gratefulness. It will take you
as you like it best, hard and fast as a slap across your face,
or so sweet and slow you’ll scream give it to me give it to me
until it does.
Nothing will ever reach this deep. Nothing will ever clench this hard.
At last (the little girls are clapping, shouting) someone has pulled
the drawstring of your gym bag closed enough and tight. At last
someone has knotted the lace of your shoe so it won’t ever
Even as you turn into it, even as you begin to feel yourself stop,
you’ll whistle with amazement between your residual teeth oh jesus