jo skates

Skating in the key of life


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Poem: “The Skating Day”

Hey, it’s National Poetry Month, and I’ve been reading Mary Oliver’s breathtakingly beautiful poem, “The Summer Day.” Her poem asks many questions, beginning with a hard one: “Who made the world?” and ending with this memorable query: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do/with your one wild and precious life?”

That’s an easy one. Here’s my answer, a tribute to her inspiring meditation on watching a grasshopper (lines in italics are hers).

The Skating Day

Who made this edge?
Who made this three, and these bunny ears?
Who made this pattern?
This pattern, I mean–
the one that swizzles up and down, saying there are knees bending,
heart pumping, ankles pressed against laces, then releasing.
I can see my own reflection going to and from the boards.
Now I am turning my hips against my shoulders and feeling tension deep deep down.
Now I change direction, head stays the same. Count with me–one, two, three.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to push down
into the ice’s bright and brittle surface, how to glide away
as if there was no clock and no opening of the gates
to signal us off and away, no moment when the music stops.
This is what I’ve been doing during those few hours.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?