I’ve been reading a few poems from Mary Oliver‘s book Dream Work each night before going to sleep while I’ve been out here at Soaring Gardens. The last poem in the book is called ‘The Sunflowers’, and it’s vintage Mary Oliver, how she graciously re-acquaints us with some living being in nature that we’ve surely noticed once or twice before, and perhaps even marveled over, but have forgotten all about in our busy city/suburban lives:
‘Don’t be afraid / to ask them questions! / Their bright faces, / which follow the sun, / will listen, and all / those rows of seeds — / each one a new life! — / hope for a deeper acquaintance;’
I read this poem the night before I drove down to the Delaware shore for a long weekend break from my break (!) and awoke in the morning from a deep dream where somebody was whispering, urgently: ‘Pay a visit to the sunflowers!’. The oracle of Google turned up this awesome sunflower maze in New Jersey, which was more or less on my route from PA to DE, so I can indeed attest to Mary Oliver’s further observations:
‘each of them, though it stands / in a crowd of many, / like a separate universe, / is lonely, the long work / of turning their lives / into a celebration / is not easy. Come / and let us talk with those modest faces, / the simple garments of leaves, / the coarse roots in the earth / so uprightly burning.’
And to think that they only live for a single summer! All that work, for what? Just to stand in solidarity with thousands of other golden beings in open sunlight and nourish the bees? That is the question I posed to the sunflowers, and their answer was YES!