Rarely a day goes by without my thoughts turning to Hazel. Even though she died in the spring of 2006, I often feel her presence. This is a picture of her at age 16, just before she became ill. She was a feisty spirit and I often draw on my memories of her when facing difficult things in my life.
After posting a poem of Mary Oliver’s yesterday, I spent some time reading more of her poetry today. From the comments I received, I realise that Mary Oliver’s words speak to many of us in ways that I find hard to describe.
When Hazel died, a friend sent me the poem, The Swan, reproduced below. Hazel truly was the swan in my life for seventeen years – my armful of white blossoms. She made me realise what beauty is for.
Did you too see it, drifting, all night, on the black river?
Did you see it in the morning, rising into the silvery air –
An armful of white blossoms,
A perfect commotion of silk and linen as it leaned
into the bondage of its wings; a snowbank, a bank of lilies,
Biting the air with its black beak?
Did you hear it, fluting and whistling
A shrill dark music – like the rain pelting the trees – like a waterfall
Knifing down the black ledges?
And did you see it, finally, just under the clouds –
A white cross Streaming across the sky, its feet
Like black leaves, its wings Like the stretching light of the river?
And did you feel it, in your heart, how it pertained to everything?
And have you too finally figured out what beauty is for?
And have you changed your life?