Music, Relationships, Words

The Soft Animal of Your Body


To the Dude from OK Cupid,

Not you. Yes…you with the sometime s-curl. Against my better judgment (see, your sometime s-curl) we exchanged a short volley of messages. You seemed promising, urging church girls to keep their distance. As evidence of my wantonness I proffered a song about the dark by Nina. Pleased, you offered to tutor me on the finer points of whiskey. Or was it bourbon? Doesn’t matter. In the end, you dissed. But your profile’s opening entreaty will always be worth my bruised ego:

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.

Feeling high, I googled, and felt all the little hairs on the back of my neck stand on end as I read the remaining lines of  “Wild Geese” by Mary Oliver:

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.

Here’s an Oliver reading:

Good shit isn’t it? More samples of Oliver’s poetic genius here. Buy her books here.






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