The Summer Day by Mary Oliver

The Summer Day by Mary Oliver is one of my favorite poems. It brought me a lot comfort with repeated readings while treating for Hepatitis C during the summer of 2010 with Telaprevir. 

wild and precious

This week marks the 2 year anniversary of starting Hepatitis C treatment. It is a perfect time to remember all the moments that I learned to be still, take care of myself, and consider the whole of my life. I spent a lot of time thinking and remembering.

The dried grass reminded me of my dry skin rash.

The humidity smelled like the storm that had rolled into my life with shots and pills leaving me swollen with ascites.

The sound of cicadas were like the screaming in my head during Riba Rage.

Yet, I celebrate because this year the virus is gone. I took great joy in watching the fledgling Blue Jay in my yard, and the Hummingbirds who drank my leftover sugar from the lemonade adventure. I am thankful for my Creator who made me with a strong body and mind to enjoy each day.

But all week, I was disheartened to see my Basil leaves covered with grasshoppers. I knocked them off when they caught my attention, but now they had stripped it to nearly nothing. This morning, while filling the bird feeder, I caught one out of the corner of my eye. Taking my now empty bird seed cup, I ran to trap him. It took 2 or 3 tries, but I was successful and finally flung him into the yard. As I kneeled down and inspected the little guy, I saw that one of his legs had gotten knocked off during our struggle. Then he jumped away from me as quick as a blink.

Later this afternoon when I came home from the gym, I sat on the porch with a big bowl of watermelon. I had my phone ready to browse Facebook and Google+. I was surprised when a grasshopper jumped up and sat right on the arm of my lawn chair. It was the same little guy had lost a leg in our tussle this morning! My heart went out to him. He looked at me and sat quietly with me for over an hour. It was as though he wanted me to see that nothing could stop him. His plight reminded me of my summer of suffering the Hepatitis C treatment.

I thought of this poem and went inside for a pinch of sugar and a camera. I hurried back out and he was in the same spot. He moved very bravely toward my fingers and snacked on organic sugar granules for a long while. I wondered if his injury hurt. All of a sudden I felt at one with this insect who had made me so angry earlier in the week. I thought of every creature who has suffered, man and beast, through the ages. My own self pity turned into  sympathy for all of us who suffer, but especially for those of us who have Hepatitis C or Cirrhosis.

Since I first read Mary Oliver’s poem, the grasshopper has become a symbol for me. They arrived in droves this week. They are munching on mint, hot pepper leaves, and unfortunately, my Basil. His presence this afternoon created a solemn sense. I was created and placed on this earth for a purpose, as he was – as you are. Illness, or in his case, a woman wielding a plastic cup can threaten that. We are all vulnerable to injury or death at any time. We are all part of the beautiful plan that our creator designed. We can pray, and be thankful, and accept our wounded state. Like the grasshopper, We can just be who we are with what we are given.grasshopper mary oliver summer

My guest did finally snap open his wings and fly crookedly. The last time I saw him, he was just a few feet from my herb garden. Haha!

The last line of this poem always inspires me to DO SOMETHING with my one wild and precious life. It also reminds me that the first step may be the hardest, especially if you are one legged.  

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?

 Mary Oliver from New and Selected Poems

2 thoughts on “The Summer Day by Mary Oliver

  1. My gosh I have no idea. My life changed so much I am still trying to find my niche. I did the 48 week ribiviran and interferon. Relapsed. Now trying to get healthy in case we do triple. I also treated in 20110-2011. Cyber friend

    1. It’s hard to think about the future sometimes. This poem gives me radical ideas. I want to do it ALL! I hope you get the chance to treat again soon sweetie. It’s great having that behind you.. xo K:)

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