Gardens starting to put out some produce, are they? In honor of that…
Beans , by Mary Oliver
They’re not like peaches or squash.
Plumpness isn’t for them. They like
being lean, as if for the narrow
path. The beans themselves sit qui-
etly inside their green pods. In-
stinctively one picks with care,
never tearing down the fine vine,
never not noticing their crisp bod-
ies, or feeling their willingness for
the pot, for the fire.
I have thought sometimes that
something –I can’t name it —
watches as I walk the rows, accept-
ing the gift of their lives to assist
I know what you think: this is fool-
iciness. They’re only vegetables.
Even the blossoms with which they
begin are small and pale, hardly sig-
nificant. Our hands, or minds, our
feet hold more intelligence. With
this I have no quarrel.
But, what about virtue?
Published in Blue Iris, © 2004
NOTE her line break choices! It is as if she chose to make this poem formally into neat, garden-like rows, with a couple of odd line breaks and splitting words needlessly [see “qui- etly” ] to subtly call attention to the form itself. See how no line goes too long, or too close to the “path” of the margin. It is garden as poem and poem as garden. Exquisite.
May I have such creative, sacrificial virtue, God? That “willingness for the pot, for the fire”? May I have such boldness as Mary, yet with the same gentle touch? Bring it to me… or is it up to me to plant my own seeds?
- Green beans amandine (grassfedyogi.com)