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. – from “Wild Geese” by Mary Oliver
Our Reading Room

My Soft Animal View

I come to this poem again and again, letting its words fold over me as if they are warm water coming just over my ears in a hot spring.  The world muffled and my breath deep.

Now is the time to reflect, to set goals, to resolve strong, good things.  Sometimes that looks like striding forward, bold and chin high into the new year.  For me, it means more quiet, sinking in, letting the life I have chosen with joy fill me anew.

Letting pursuits and interests fall away, leaves unadorning my life’s tree now that their work is done.


As I sit here in the recliner we bought just for the purpose of resting in words, I rub my left thumb over my right index finger in a gesture so much my mother’s that my third and fourth rib grab each other.  I stare at the paintings P’s grandmother did – a house long abandoned, a boat the same.  I study a quilt my mother stitched in greens and purples and realize – just this instant – that she probably made it for me when I said I wanted a purple bedroom after my first husband left.

The books on the shelves near me call out – Dog Years by Mark Doty, I Was Told There’d Be Cake by Sloane CrosleyWar Dances by Sherman Alexie.

The long-awaited gift of The Cider House Rules bought 15 years ago at a used bookshop in Ohio.

So much to see and witness and carry within me, just in one room of my heart.


Tomorrow, I will make resolutions and set goals.

Today, I’m going to love this soft animal of my life in this quiet space of a warm chair.