Saturday, February 9, 2013

At Steepletop

                                                               — photo by Molly Malone Cook

even in winter, we meet
somewhere between these sylvan pages,      

promises made, 
kept in quiet corners 
shadowed with memories          

we rarely spoke of infinity;

it sculpted every breath               
with silence 


Author notes:

Photograph of bookshelf at Steepletop (Austerlitz, NY) by Molly Malone Cook

September 10th is the birthday of one of my favorite poets, Mary Oliver. She was born in Maple Heights, Ohio (1935). When she was a teenager, she dropped out of college and made a pilgrimage to Edna St. Vincent Millay's estate [Steepletop] in upstate New York, and although Millay had been dead for several years, her sister Norma still lived there. The two women hit it off, and Oliver ended up living on the estate for several years. It's there that she met Molly Malone Cook, who had come to pay a visit to Millay. Oliver and Cook fell in love and moved to Provincetown, Massachusetts together. Cook became Oliver's literary agent and also sometimes impersonated Oliver for phone interviews because [Mary] hated talking to the press. They were together for more than 40 years, and after Cook died in 2005, Oliver published "Thirst" (2006), a collection of poems about her grief.  
— notes by Lori A. Hamilton

The Uses of Sorrow by Mary Oliver 
(from "Thirst")

(In my sleep I dreamed this poem)

Someone I loved once gave me
a box full of darkness.

It took me years to understand
that this, too, was a gift.