Ode to Early Risers

I have never been a particularly early (or cheerful) riser, but lately, our life at Smallpeace has inspired me to rethink old habits. Here, dawn comes on like a light switch, with choirs of insects, farm animals, and songbirds singing us awake. There is such magic in those first glorious moments of daybreak that it seems a shame not to experience it first hand.

On this morning, around 5:30 a.m., as I walked through the mist to the lower part of our property, a poem by Mary Oliver came to mind. For me, Oliver’s writing cuts through the superficiality of our lives and strikes at the very heart of all that is simple, and beautiful, and right in the world.

Morning Poem

Every morning
the world
is created.
Under the orange

sticks of the sun
the heaped
ashes of the night
turn into leaves again

and fasten themselves to the high branches —
and the ponds appear
like black cloth
on which are painted islands

of summer lilies.
If it is your nature
to be happy
you will swim away along the soft trails

for hours, your imagination
alighting everywhere.
And if your spirit
carries within it

the thorn
that is heavier than lead —
if it’s all you can do
to keep on trudging —

there is still
somewhere deep within you
a beast shouting that the earth
is exactly what it wanted —

each pond with its blazing lilies
is a prayer heard and answered
lavishly,
every morning,

whether or not
you have ever dared to be happy,
whether or not
you have ever dared to pray.

From Dream Work (1986) by Mary Oliver
© Mary Oliver

About Smallpeace

Michele Karas is a poet, essayist, and longstanding professional copywriter, who currently works for a top-five US book publisher. Her poems and prose have appeared in literary journals, including Tinderbox, THRUSH, Alaska Quarterly Review, and Narrative magazine, among others. Michele holds a BA in Journalism from San Diego State University and an MFA in Creative Writing from CUNY, The City College of New York. Find her on Twitter @small_peace.
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2 Responses to Ode to Early Risers

  1. Danny Nettleton says:

    “orange sticks of the sun” is a phrase I wish I’d come up with. The last stanza touched me and I had to reread it to try and figure out how you got me there. The photos are beautiful too.

    • Smallpeace says:

      Welcome, Danny. I also wish I’d come up with that phrase. Alas, I have a long way to go before I can be as facile with words as Mary Oliver. She is inspiring. Thanks for taking the time. M

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