Original Poetry


Wild Harpers

for my harp students,

with gratitude for Mary Oliver’s poem, Wild Geese


You do not have to be good.

You do not have to practice till fingertips are bloody and muscles jump and burn.

You have only to let the soft animal of your body press into the heart and

carve out a place in your heart.

You have only to begin with prayer and end with praise.

You have only to bless each errant note with kind anticipation of  surer grasp.

You have only to remember Turloch, hunched with harp, walking rocky paths seeing melodies everywhere

and countless centuries of musical wanderers, making the trail we follow.

You have only to remember humble abbeys and grand cathedrals

where music lifted hungry pilgrims.

You have only to remember hospice havens

where harpers joined with souls traveling the last piece.

You have only to remember a small shepherd awaiting dawn

singing to rambling sheep.

Tell me about despair, yours,  and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile get your heart to the purple iris, and sit with her and sing her a new tune.

Meanwhile do a duet with the dove

ask her the secrets of the universe, and see who smiles.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely

the harp offers herself to your imagination, each tuned  string inviting heart;

breathe deeper, see with sweet opened eyes,  know the love that you are.


Folk Harp Journal, Number 108, Summer 2000