The Leaf and the Cloud
Mary Oliver
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Buy *The Leaf and the Cloud: A Poem

The Leaf and the Cloud: A Poem

Mary Oliver
Da Capo Press
72 pages
October 2001
rated 4 of 5 possible stars
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I received this small but powerful book of poetry as a gift from a lifelong friend after the death of my mother. My friend wanted to express more than what was available in a sympathy card and felt that this poet could bring me comfort, would speak to my soul. I have only now been able to read it, on the anniversary of my mother's birthday. I thought I would look for the message my friend had intended and found an evening of peace and forgiveness in the very heart of the natural world, the beginning of life's bounty.

In "Flare" I read: "May they sleep well. May they soften." I can allow my mother to leave without rage. I understand the need to let go of those that we have loved. And I can release my mother from worldly burdens, or any obligation for my own choices:

"But I will not give them the kiss of complicity.
I will not give them responsibility for my life."
In words as soft as the touch of a baby's cheek, Oliver invokes images that lighten the burdens of life but tempers her vision with reality, as softly powerful as a balled fist. Oliver views everything from inside nature's world, where the dictates are profoundly simple, where lessons abound for the observant. As a guide, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author is sensitive to the reality of nature's cycles, the interconnectedness of all that surrounds us.

In "Gravel", I found my own thought spoken:

"This is the poem of goodbye.
And this is the poem of I don't know."
There may not be easy answers to the weight of loss or the difficulty of letting go. In this book-length poem filled with beginnings and endings, I find myself thinking about the world more thoughtfully, grateful for its idiosyncratic beauty and finely wrought perfection, for its ability to guide through the rigors of birth, death and rebirth, a continuum of all life. "Maybe the real world, without us,/ is the real poem."(From the Book of Time)

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at Luan Gaines, 2005

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