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The girl I knew in university
who was too busy to live outside
the space between her ears
spoke in the rat-ta-tat-tat staccato
of a bump-stock enhanced AR-fifteen.

She knew my and your name
from conversations we had with others
while her cigarette glowed orange
with an inhaled breath.

In her diary, she recorded
what she believed
our first words were to our parents
with exclamation points and smiley faces
and dragons drawn in the margin.

The girl I knew in university
spoke in binary languages
which were incompatible to human discourse,
except when too many beers
blurred all fonts into body language
that resembled glyphs and pictographs
of ancient civilizations she studied as well.

She coded a post-it note in cuneiform
and slapped it on my art history book,
Your if than else statements
got little monsters chewing the parameters to pieces,
let me read your hand and I’ll debug you.


copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney

POST SCRIPT

I have been thinking about our loss of poet Mary Oliver, who passed away a couple days ago (NPR article). Her voice and witness will be missed, though as life goes there are thousands of poets who will move to fill the void left by her absence. The public will choose who really fills that void, just as the public chose Mary Oliver to be one of their poetic spokespersons for so many years.

My image of Mary Oliver’s poetry was that her work was top flight writing and witness of the world. Her writing landed almost dead center on the bell curve of human communication. That is why so many people loved her work, because they could access her imagery and greater meaning within the course of normal effort, thinking, contemplation. A good talent to have for a writer.

Does this put her work in the dreaded category of “Most Understood Poet” which Dick Cavett once said about poet Rod McEwen as an insult. No. Not for me. Maybe some in the snob portions of the poetry world, but not for me.

As the universe takes Mary Oliver and redistributes her molecules and atoms, maybe we will be fortunate enough one day to happen upon a deer or goose that is part Mary Oliver and recognize them for this addition.

Link to On Being podcast of 2015 Mary Oliver interview.

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