Fourteen Lines on Mary Oliver, Her Last January

in Obituaries by

You’ve been folded into the crease of the year,
That cannot be pulled straight, definition by shadow,
The rumpled linen of your sharp, sacked elbows.
All bones are funny to you, the staves of your thighs,
The wicker withies of rib, the many teeth in your mouth,
And the one that cracks the chicken’s egg, the teeth
Of sycamore roots biting lustily into earth, the teeth
Of clouds, grinding the sky to a fine blue film.

You are folded away now, like a lover’s pleated rose,
Like the pierced mussel shell that gleams, a nebula
Against the water-stained sand, a crow’s black feather
Shed, a pilgrim’s talisman. You are kept safe
Against the time of going without,
Meal set against famine.



Daisy Bassen is a practicing psychiatrist and poet based in Rhode Island.  She was a semi-finalist in the 2016 Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry, a finalist in the 2018 Adelaide Literary Award for Poetry, and a nominee for the 2019 Pushcart Prize.


Photo by Rachel Giese Brown.