Written in May 2015, and posted here tonight in memory of Mary Oliver. I was clearly aware of her voice and of her cadences as I was writing this poem.

My Work

What is my work?
It is listening to the birds
whose names I do not know,
whose language
I can never understand.


It is writing a poem
over the second cup
of morning coffee.


It is planning the day:
phone calls, pharmacy,
confession, lunch.


It is learning to rejoice
as the first Christians did
at the first Easter.


My work is correcting my faults,
and bothering less
about the faults of others.


To accept whatever comes.
To change complaining
to gratitude.


My work is learning how.


My work is not to teach.
My work is not to preach.
My work is not to inveigh
or to compel.


My work is listening.


My work is an hour of solitude
at the start of the day,
in communion with the wounded world,
in communion with the holy ones
who have gone before.


My work is clearing the front yard of pine-cones.
My work is raking leaves.

My work is placing stone upon stone
and building a chapel.

Poetry by Thomas DeFreitas The PoetBay support member heart!
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Written on 2019-01-18 at 03:32

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jim The PoetBay support member heart!
I went to read a few of her poems this morning, then remembered I gave my book of her poems to a friend. Maybe that was my work.

Good poem. Her voice (and others) were/are a touchstone.

Anne Westlund The PoetBay support member heart!
This reminds me of "chop wood, carry water" both before and after enlightenment. Who knows what our work is, is it writing, or is it helping others, or even raking leaves or doing the dishes? Neat poem, Thomas.