Day 35, To See What We Can See: Bone


Dear Friends,

Can you stand one last (for now) Mary Oliver poem?  I’ve gotten on a roll, and gotta roll it out!

The image from Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ Women Who Run With the Wolves of singing over the bones, singing flesh onto what seems dead, bringing life again, resonates deeply with me.  That’s why when I was gifted this poem from a friend, I immediately grew to love it.

Again today, either write out this poem onto a beautiful background you’ve already made in your journal, or write or image your response to the poem.




Understand, I am always trying to figure out

what the soul is,

and where hidden,

and what shape —

and so, last week,

when I found on the beach

the ear bone

of a pilot whale that may have died

hundreds of years ago, I thought

maybe I was close

to discovering something —

for the ear bone


is the portion that lasts longest

in any of us, man or whale; shaped

like a squat spoon

with a pink scoop where

once, in the lively swimmer’s head,

it joined its two sisters

in the house of hearing,

it was only

two inches long—

and I thought:  the soul

might be like this—

so hard, so necessary—


yet almost nothing.

Beside me

the gray sea

was opening and shutting its wave-doors,

unfolding over and over

its time-ridiculing roar;

I looked but I couldn’t see anything

through its dark-knit glare;

yet don’t we all know, the golden sand

is there at the bottom,

though our eyes have never seen it,

nor can our hands ever catch it


lest we would sift it down

into fractions, and facts—


and what the soul is, also

I believe I will never quite know.

Though I play at the edges of knowing,

truly I know

our part is not knowing,

but looking, and touching, and loving,

which is the way I walked on,


through the pale-pink morning light.

 —Mary Oliver New and Selected Poem, Volume Two.


With love,


Day 35 of a series of daily prompts for written, visual, or art journalling, or just for pondering.  For more background information, see the Intro page, or this post on visual journalling:

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