Why I Wake Early

Why I Wake Early, by Mary Oliver

I will be the first to admit there is a lot of Mary Oliver in this Memory Book Project so far. I have resisted adding a third Oliver poem for months now. It’s time.

I’ve just started attending a class/discussion group with the wonderful Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer, where a small group of us read aloud and respond to poems from Oliver’s collection Devotions for two hours each week. It’s glorious. It has made me keen to memorize more of my favorites, and to speak and share them.

This particular poem is maybe a little out-of-season, talking about tulips and morning glories, but it floats through my mind most days. I, too, habitually wake early, to answer a similar need.

I chose it today exactly because it’s out of season. Winter is here, in my northern hemisphere, and we see less and less of the sun. Which I know is hard on many of us. So listen to these lines and feel that sun on your face.

And I chose it for that last line. Oliver’s poems frequently give great advice, sometimes without framing it as advice at all. Here, it’s just a gentle, quietly powerful observation. It could change your life. It has changed mine.

This post is part of The Memory Book Project.

If you enjoyed this post, consider writing me a letter. The PenPal Project is a way to experiment with community, joy, and sustainable creative practice. You are cordially invited.

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