Yesterday I went to find a stamp for a letter to my granddaughter for
her birthday (today). I am a very orderly person and keep my stamps
in a certain place, where I can reach in, pull one out as I need it.
Not there! Where I live the mailman, Tom, comes late morning, and
picks up mail as well as delivers it. I had an hour to find a stamp.
After a futile search of everyplace near my desk, I gathered up
four envelopes containing bill payments ( written out nine days ago)
also out of place, and said to myself, well, at least THESE will get
mailed. I took them out to the lobby, dropped them into the OUT
slot, and then thought to knock on a neighbor, Bobbi’s, door, to ask
for a stamp.
Done! She sold me four forty-four-cent stamps, I retrieved my note
to my granddaughter, applied a stamp and put it in the OUT slot.
Relaxed and happy, I returned to my apartment and surveyed the
disorder I’d created trying to find a stamp. In less than the time it
takes to tell you this, I had a hunch, moved my small stack of in-
boxes, and lo, there was the envelope with my stock of stamps.
The envelope had simply fallen behind at the back corner of my
The reason I have even shared this is to notice how discomfort
moved me to ask for help, found it given easily, and then the
resultant relief was so warm and wonderful, that it reminded
me of a part of a poem by Mary Oliver:
“for it’s true, isn’t it,
in our world
that the petals pooled with nectar, and the polished thorns
are a single thing —
that even the purest light, lacking the robe of darkness,
would be without expression —–
that love itself, without its pain, would be
no more than a shruggable comfort.
Lately, I have noticed, when the skunk’s temper has tilted
in the distance,
and the acids are floating everywhere,
and I am touched, it is all, even in my nostrils and my throat,
as the brushing of thorns;
and I stand there
thinking of the old, wild life of the fields, when, as I remember it,
I was shaggy, and beautiful,
like the rose.”
……………………MARY OLIVER, from the poem, A Certain
Sharpness in the Morning Air.
You may wonder how a forty-four-cent stamp can lead to feeling
shaggy and beautiful. I suppose it goes further back, to “the old,
wild life of the fields”, doesn’t it? How wonderful that the memory
of poetry can transform a simple moment of upset and retrieval
into the larger perspective of a life lived.
with love …