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The Canadian geese are calling, and I am listening. Their sounds from above recall me to the here and now, to the ground below my feet. The poetry of wild geese in flight has long called out to me, in this way: it reminds me of the present moment and restores me to it. The singular poem, “Wild Geese,” has done similar service for me, over many years. Mary Oliver first published “Wild Geese” in 1986, and I first read it the following year. A friend sent it to me then, and the poem has remained a true gift in my life.
Back before my time at Anythink, I was a real nerd. After spending a single hour trying my best not to over-celebrate the fact that I was touching books Benjamin Franklin had set the type for, I realized I needed a job handling this kind of material. And I wanted it right then. And after walking next door to the actual Special Collections department at the University of Iowa Libraries, that's exactly the kind of job I got. The next two years of my life were spent getting to know the texts we kept behind a vault, or on specially ventilated spaces.
Like much of Mary Oliver’s work, The Wren from Carolina (text below) speaks to that voice inside all of us that cries out on occasion in soft gratefulness: for the first signs of spring, or the unspoken kind gesture, or perhaps for the comfort of a great book on one’s lap. This poem always makes me appreciative of “my own cup of gladness” that is new each morning, even when it feels out of reach. I imagine the puffed up, feathered yellow breast of a Carolina Wren as he prepares to sing his morning praises to the world around him, and I try to emulate him in my own way.