It's just before dawn when I open my eyes and tiptoe from the bedroom. At 4:30 the sky is still a deep steel gray and even the birds are still nestled, beaks tucked beneath their wings. Early August, summer in full heat, and already daylight comes a bit later each day. At my writing desk I switch on the Ott-lite and watch the blank white page glow like a rectangular moon. Writing in the morning is a habit and a treat I look forward to.

The short story collection is complete. I have only to compose a titilating query and send it off and see what happens. In the meantime I began an online poetry class yesterday. The class involves reading contemporary women poets and then using some of those poems as launch pads for our own writing. This morning, as the sky outside wavered into a pink and blue watercolor I opened a collection of Mary Oliver's poems. She is the first poet we are studying and one of my favorites.

Reading her lines is like walking into a field of wildflowers. Between the rigid stems tiny wildlife skitter. Background music is provided by singing birds, and the hum of summer insects. I am no longer at my writing desk, but on a foray to the outdoors. Oliver's words enter my skin and my soul. Her detailed descriptions of Mother Nature's gifts stir my muse. Before I know it I am scrawling my own poems across that blank white page.

I can't reach Oliver's excellence, not yet. I've read that she rewrote her poems hundreds of times, getting them quite perfect, before she let them venture out to publishers. The smooth sounds of her lines belie all those revisions, but the utter beauty and magic of each poem is witness that Oliver spent many lonely mornings creating her perfections.

I will use this time to make poems, to look skyward toward Mother Nature's abstract designs, and listen attentively to each tiny sound made by the little creatures of the world. And I will hope that in some way I can come to write poems as magical and reverent as Oliver's.


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