Impulsively, I picked up a copy of Mary Oliver’s Upstream as a birthday gift for Jonathan last February. I didn’t realize it was essays rather than Oliver’s gorgeous poetry, but the book landed and took root in the soil of Jonathan’s deepest psyche. He read some essays twice and read several aloud, so we could experience their exquisite unfoldings together.
Not every essay strikes the core, but the book abounds with quiet revelation. A great deal focuses on Oliver’s immersive relationship with nature – turtles, spiders, water, dogs, trees, birds. She astutely pays tribute to her literary heroes – Poe, Whitman, Wordsworth, Emerson, and she offers poetic prose about work, art, aging, life. The book is a sensory feast, even the tactile softness of the cover. It’s awash with moments where you stop and close your eyes to savor a passage, absorb it, write it down and tape it to the mirror, because it releases something valuable that you house but rarely recognize.
It moved me to witness my husband’s recognition and embracing of that release. The liberation of that rarefied space inside us is something like love, both given and received.
My 60th year in 60,000 words
Day 239: 190 words, TOTAL = 39,244; 20,756 remaining
Robin Clifford Wood is a writer and writing teacher. She lives in central Maine with her husband and dogs, loves to be outdoors, and enjoys ever-expanding horizons through her grown children and their multi-species families.