I cannot believe it is April 1 and National Poetry Month is upon us.

While I want to keep up my annual commitment to sharing a daily poem, it’s going to be a challenge this year. I’m “on the road” thirteen of the next thirty days, but I want to do it if only for myself, because I love poetry. I also want to do it for any readers who love poetry, but also for the ones who don’t love it yet.

I am making one significant shift this year. Instead of trying to include a wide variety of poets, I am focusing on the poets I return to again and again, the ones who have fed my soul and changed my life. I may even include poems I have shared in previous years, because one reading is never enough.

This first week, I am  honoring Mary Oliver, who passed away in January of this year at the age of 83. Known affectionately around our place as “Molliver,” she was a poetic naturalist, more at home outside than in, more comfortable around animals than humans, more inclined to use fewer words than many. In other words, not much like me. And yet, the themes of her poetry speak deeply to me. She too is a seeker and rebel.

“Molliver” also first came to mind because of my son Finn, who shares her love of nature and her deep way of seeing. What she captures in words, he captures in photographs. Like knows like and I have always thought that if their paths had crossed, they would have been great friends. I don’t think it’s any accident that the love of Mary’s life was the photographer Molly Malone Cook. Like knows like – in nature, in life, in love.

So without further ado, here is my first poem in the National Poetry Month series, dedicated to the memory of Mary Oliver and the future of Finn Kirkpatrick.



Every day

I see or hear


that more or less


kills me

with delight,

that leaves me

like a needle


in the haystack

of  light.

It is what I was born for –

to look, to listen,


to lose myself

inside this soft world –

to instruct myself

over and over


in joy,

and acclamation.

Nor am I talking

about the exceptional,


the fearful, the dreadful,

the very extravagant –

but of the ordinary,

the common, the very drab,


the daily presentations.

Oh good scholar,

I say to myself,

how can you help


but grow wise

with such teachings

as these –

the untrimmable light


of the world,

the ocean’s shine,

the prayers that are made

out of grass?

If you can, even for just a moment today, be mindful – of the light around you, the feel of the breeze on your skin, the warmth of the sun on your face, the sound of the birds out your window. Be a good scholar and grow wise – not in the ways of the world – but in the ways of the universe.

Finn captures the “untrimmable light” of a sunrise rainbow over the Pacific Ocean.


(As always, if the thirty days is too much, feel free to skip away. I’ll be continuing my Lenten reflections, so if you want to tune in for those, just look for that in the title.)

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Keara Moses

“She Walks in Beauty”

She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellowed to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.
One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o’er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling place.
And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!
Lord Byron (1788- 1824) was one of the premiere poets of the Romantic era. If you’ve never heard of him, you probably studied his more staid contemporaries, like Wordsworth, “Lines Composed Above Tintern Abbey,”  or Coleridge, “Kubla Kahn.  However, Byron was wildly popular in his day, both as a man and a poet. He was wealthy, handsome, defiant, and in some ways the embodiment of what would become known as the “Byronic hero,” which still pops up in television, film and literature to this day.
This is a classic love poem from that period, which we rarely see the likes of any more. Rhyme schemes, especially simplistic ones like we see here (ababab), have gone out of style, so it might sound strange to our modern ears. Also in classic fashion, the author overstates the perfection of his beloved. In each stanza, he heaps on more praise that can’t possibly be true. A pure dwelling place? A mind at peace with all below?  It’s over the top, right, so why include it?
Call me sentimental, I guess.
I fell in love with Byron’s work when I was a teenager, fresh out of high school and newly immersed in great literature as an English major. I had a fantasy of finding my own Romantic hero someday and this poem was the epitome of tenderness and devotion I hoped one day would come to me. While I did find my hero shortly thereafter, he wasn’t one for poetry, but I knew he loved me better than a man like Lord Byron ever could, who would have taken this perfect creature and left her a disgraced and fallen woman. That was his more likely pattern.
But this poem has always stayed with me and when it came time for Keara’s senior high school yearbook page, I was able to use the first lines to honor her:
She walks in beauty like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes: