Today I read “Dogfish” by Mary Oliver in the light of my own ongoing preoccupation with meaninglessness, fear & creative excess.
Here is a short excerpt from the original poem:
the past to go away, I wanted
to leave it, like another country; I wanted
my life to close, and open
like a hinge, like a wing, like the part of the song
where it falls
down over the rocks: an explosion, a discovery;
to hurry into the work of my life; I wanted to know,
whoever I was, I was
for a little while.
You don’t want to hear the story
of my life, and anyway
I don’t want to tell it, I want to listen
to the enormous waterfalls of the sun.
There are so many things I love about this poem: I love how it is so very personal without being private (and I believe this is why every reader can see that this is a story about themselves). I love how the narrator let her own interior life mix in with the natural scenery; doubling the production of meaning in both. I love the strength in the narrator’s voice (I want my life to open) – even if its pretty obvious she has had some troubles lately (I wanted my life to close). And most of all I like the linguistic simplicity (thriftiness?), Oliver’s ability of not using a single word too many.