by Devon Balwit
(Mary Oliver, 1935-2019)
The snide will ever be snide, complaining
that a marmot isn’t a red-tail, disappointed
that the chamber quartet doesn’t beatbox,
wanting white bread to spice itself into dal,
condemning the popular, their own envy
visible like a slip sagging beneath a hem.
She never seems to be in her poems,
a critic complains, but outside them,
putting them together from the available
literary elements. Where else would a poet work,
and what else with, drawing the outside in,
a diligent gleaner? Another, deriding her
homiletic upward yearning jokes
that no animals appear to have been harmed
in the making of her poems. No. Only that critic’s
sensibilities. The rest of us hang on the cries
of her wild geese, harsh and exciting,
announcing our place in the family of things.
We sit in pews, on yoga mats, on buses,
at kitchen tables, hoping for words
to lighten our burden. We want the ordinary
to be consecrated, for most of us only ever
abide there—no more special than our good dog
sniffing the common yards of our common streets.
Devon Balwit's most recent collection is A Brief Way to Identify a Body (Ursus Americanus Press). Her individual poems can be found at SWWIM Every Day, The Cincinnati Review, Tampa Review, Fifth Wednesday (on-line), Apt, Grist, and Oxidant Engine, among others. For more on her book and movie reviews, chapbooks, collections and individual works, see her website at https://pelapdx.wixsite.com/devonbalwitpoet.