The following poem, “Poppies” by Mary Oliver, reflects on the springtime miracle of these local blooms, a familiar sight to most of us this time of year. Threatening this swaying miracle is the deep blue night, the darkness which stalks all living things, bringing inevitable loss. But Oliver is defiant in her hope, finding in the translucent poppy a sign of something greater, even holy. Here Oliver evokes John 1:5, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” May we live with such fibrous, durable faith.

The poppies send up their
orange flares; swaying
in the wind, their congregations
are a levitation

of bright dust, of thin
and lacy leaves.
There isn’t a place
in this world that doesn’t

sooner or later drown
in the indigos of darkness,
but now, for a while,
the roughage

shines like a miracle
as it floats above everything
with its yellow hair.
Of course nothing stops the cold,

black, curved blade
from hooking forward—
of course
loss is the great lesson.

But I also say this: that light
is an invitation
to happiness,
and that happiness,

when it’s done right,
is a kind of holiness,
palpable and redemptive.
Inside the bright fields,

touched by their rough and spongy gold,
I am washed and washed
in the river
of earthly delight—

and what are you going to do—
what can you do
about it—
deep, blue night?


Andy Wall
Author: Andy Wall