WILD GEESE by Mary Oliver
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
Happy International Women’s Day! Our correspondent Joyce Kulhawik suggested the beautiful poem, Wild Geese, and in honor of today, we are republishing the poem in its entirety. (And see Joyce Kulhawik’s complete essay about Mary Oliver here.) Ms. Oliver reminds us that we can exhale and be ourselves, and that we are good enough. All week we have dedicated RogerEbert.com to articles written by phenomenal women. You can peruse our Table of Contents here because you don’t want to miss those articles or reviews.
Here are the names of our writers for Women Writers Week 2019:
Our header photo is a nod to International Nieces’ Day.