A Father’s Day Poem

The Gardener
for my father

I have loved roses
since the earliest days,
when they spilled
like flames over our garden
walls, and you’d bring
them, fresh cut,
into the house,
where they’d dwell like
living embers singly
or together
and fill our mornings
with the perfume
of their song.

I have loved them
as you tended
the slowly growing
vine that twined
itself around the spirals
of our Jordanian
windows — an act
of faith, coaxing flowers
from the desert,
their color proclaiming
God’s faithfulness
as surely as any
burning bush
or shrub.

And I love them still,
seven thousand miles
from where you
spend your evenings
watering jasmine and
daisies, your garden a riot
of color and song,
as I tend my own
small miracle of green —
not quite eight inches
high, she grows
without knowledge
of her diminutive
size (as I gently check
each leaf for mites),
a single, unfurling
bud waving at the sky.

–Karith Amel © 2019

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When Death Comes: The Legacy of Mary Oliver

Mary Oliver died today. The poet was 83 years old, and while she lived she reminded us of the miracle inherent in the everyday details of our world: the white heron taking to the sky, sleepy cats dozing in the sun, a grasshopper perched on an open palm.  She taught me to see the links between poetry and prayer, between attention, gratitude, and worship. She instructed my heart “over and over / in joy / and acclamation” — in “the prayers that are made / out of grass.”

She was a soul fully awake to life, and she welcomed her readers into that wakefulness — into a fearless embrace of the present moment. She was, indeed, “a bride married to amazement.” And I hope that I, too, can declare, when the end comes, that I wasn’t just a visitor to this place.

When Death Comes
by Mary Oliver

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox

when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,
tending, as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.

When it’s over, I want to say all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.

I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.