Saturday, August 25, 2012

My Summer

You'll recognize that I painted these guys before using the same photograph as reference.  These were by request, sort of a commission you might say if it didn't sound so pretentious like I'm posing as an actual working artist.  Still, sometimes people who like pigeons will find me.  Shh.  I don't collect or pay sales tax on paintings.  I think it's okay that I don't pay income tax, because I'm pretty sure I shell out more on supplies than I make.  Actually, I pay an awful lot of taxes, and generally feel pretty good about it.  I'm fortunate to live in a wonderful city, state, and country.  All the benefits that I enjoy have a price, and usually it's not the blood of soldiers, but just cold hard ordinary cash. 

I came upon this poem last week.  If I up and quit my job one day soon, this is where the seed got planted. 

The Summer Day

Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

from New and Selected Poems, 1992
Beacon Press, Boston, MA
Copyright 1992 by Mary Oliver.


  1. Don't worry, I won't tell. The cost of art supplies remind me of where the real fortunes are made.

    This is just the sweetest watercolor. The diagonal line running through it was the perfect solution to the background. You are a fine editor when it comes to leaving in and dropping out.

    the finishing questions of Mary Oliver's poem are swell too