Feather, Duckweed, and Mosquito Fern on a Brazoria pond


Today I’m flying low and I’m
not saying a word.
I’m letting all the voodoos of ambition sleep.
The world goes on as it must,
the bees in the garden rumbling a little,
the fish leaping, the gnats getting eaten.
And so forth.
But I’m taking the day off.
Quiet as a feather,
I hardly move though really I’m traveling
a terrific distance.
Stillness. One of the doors
into the temple.
“Today” ~ Mary Oliver


Comments always are welcome.

32 thoughts on “Floating

    1. There’s always something new and pleasing in Mary Oliver’s work, just as there’s always something new and pleasing to see in the natural world. I’m glad you enjoyed the pairing; I certainly enjoyed finding the feather.

    1. I always enjoy seeing a mosquito fern/duckweed combination, and the patterns they make as the current carries them to and fro. In this case, the lightness of the feather added to the delicacy of the plants’ movements; it charmed me with its peacefulness.

  1. Love this poem by Mary! “Taking the day off.” “Traveling a terrific distance.” Yep, those ideas totally appeal to me right now! (I’m just completely unwilling to line up in airports on the slim chance I might be able to go somewhere, and gas is somewhat prohibitive. Sigh. A staycation it is, then!)

    1. If I were traveling this weekend, I’d certainly stick to driving and not risk the complications of air travel. Of course, I’ve sworn off flying for a number of years, anyway. I recently read that if you have a destination that’s seven hours distant or less, you’re guaranteed to get there faster by road. I believe it, and since international travel’s not in my budget, the car it is.

      A day off now and then is a good thing, planned or unplanned. We finally have a truly rainy day, so I’m having my own little staycation; enjoy yours!

  2. One of the things that always fascinates me is process. How did that little gem of a poem get from its inception, the spark that caught her attention, that made her stop, bend down, scrabble through the debris of her thoughts, pick up that hunk of crystal and take it to the lapidary workshop of her mind, to study it, find the cleavage planes, fracture off what wasn’t needed, laboriously grind away at it to fix the facets, and polish it until it caught the light just right. That’s one of the things that frustrates me about poets. Like a calculus exam. It’s not enough to come up with the right answer. I want to see their work. The editing, the crossings out, the winnowing and rewording, And then I want to hear them read it aloud, to breathe their own breath into the words and make them live. But, I’ll take what I can get and be thankful and delighted by this tangible echo of a life.

    1. I don’t know about every poet, but I suspect Mary Oliver does less scrabbling, studying, grinding, polishing than you might think. It wouldn’t surprise me to know that she lived her way into her poems more than thinking her way in. Revisions? Of course. Setting aside and then reconsidering? No doubt. But whenever I read her work, I remember this great line from Flannery O’Connor: “The writer should never be ashamed of staring. There is nothing that does not require his attention.” Mary Oliver did a lot of standing (or sitting) around and staring.

  3. I love the photo. It’s such a beautiful juxtaposition of such simple elements that all build into something more. And I like the poem, as well. It reminds me of how I sometimes feel when I take a day off and just sit around reading a book. I’m hardly moving but really I’m travelling a terrific distance.

    1. The simplicity is charming, isn’t it? I often see floating feathers when I’m at work, since many of the birds like to preen on the docks, but when I find a feather combined with other natural elements, it’s special. Many people have criticized Oliver for the simplicity of her poems, but I think they’re wonderful distillations of the kind of simplicity nature sometimes presents.

    1. It was better than quiet and still; it rained the entire day. There wasn’t any wind, and there wasn’t any storminess — just a steady light rain that added up to about an inch or so. We may get more tomorrow, and everyone’s floating on a pond of happiness.

    1. What a lovely vision, Eliza. In places, the small aquatic plants were thick enough to cover the water, but I was taken with these scattered pieces that let the water be part of the image — as well as the feather.

  4. That’s a great photo, Linda. “Letting the voodoos of ambition sleep.” Me too. –Curt

    1. Thanks, Curt. Like tide pools, ponds offer a variety of treats, and I really enjoyed finding these. To the west, the alligator was bellowing, and to the north, a feral hog mama and her youngsters were hoof-deep in water, snarfing up the plants. Through it all, the feather just kept floating.

  5. This is a wonderful image, especially atop that black water. And, as always, you found the perfect words to pair with it. I saw your comment to Eliza and I agree. The composition is much stronger with the water an equal partner.

    1. This is one of those photos that I didn’t fully understand after I looked at it on the computer. The composition came out as I intended, but the blackness of the water was a surprise. I finally decided that the strong sunlight hitting the water might have had the same sort of effect that you and Steve get when using flash. Apparently f/13 was enough to gain the effect. In any event, I really like it — glad you do, too.

    1. I like the simplicity of both, and Oliver’s words seem to float as surely as a feather. They did seem to combine well; I’m glad you enjoyed the pairing.

  6. That is a gorgeous feather photo! And I think I’m going to try that floating thing tomorrow (I must admit that I definitely floated for the entirety of last weekend – I highly recommend it!).

    1. I really like the photo. There’s so much detail — I keep finding little bits to admire. As for floating — why not? One of the favorite summer activities around here is floating one of the hill country rivers, but if you don’t have a river, no one says you can’t float, anyway.

      I thought of you this week when I stopped by the library. All of the trees have been decked out with squares like the ones you make; the entire trunks are covered. I should have taken a photo, but I didn’t. If I remember tomorrow, I’ll drive by and see if the display still is there.

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