A depiction of geese in natural tones with the words of a powerful Mary Oliver poem scratched into the background. The painting was inspired by a recent memorial service for a dear family member and from hearing the poem read tenderly but with the strength, the humanity, and the reassurance the poem commands. With respect and gratitude for the poet, the reader, the viewer, and the family - the full poem follows.
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
– Mary Oliver