WILD GEESE, by Mary Oliver
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 clear 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.
MAE WEST, by Edward Field
She comes on drenched in a perfume called Self-Satisfaction
from feather boa to silver pumps.
She does not need to be loved by you
though she'll give you credit for good taste.
Just because you say you love her
she's not throwing herself at your feet in gratitude.
Every other star reveals how worthless she feels
by crying when the hero says he loves her,
or how unhoped-for the approval is
when the audience applauds her big number --
but Mae West takes it as her due:
she knows she's good.
She expects the best for herself
and knows she's worth what she costs
and she costs plenty --
she's not giving anything away.
She enjoys her admirers, fat daddy or muscleman,
and doesn't confuse vanity and sex,
though she never turns down pleasure,
lapping it up.
Above all she enjoys herself,
swinging her body that says, Me, me, me, me,
Why not have a good time?
As long as you amuse me, go on,
I like you slobbering over my hand, big boy --
I have a right to.
Most convincing, we know all this
not by her preaching
but by her presence -- it's no act.
Every word and look and movement
she likes being herself.
And we who don't
can only look on, astonished.
FLIGHT, by Louis Jenkins
Past mishaps might be attributed to an incomplete understanding of the laws of aerodynamics or perhaps even to a more basic failure of the imagination, but were to be expected. Remember, this is solo flight unencumbered by bicycle parts, aluminum and nylon or even feathers. A tour de force, really. There's a lot of running and flapping involved and as you get older and heavier, a lot more huffing and puffing. But on a bright day like today with a strong headwind blowing up from the sea, when, having slipped the surly bonds of common sense and knowing she is watching, waiting in breathless anticipation, you send yourself hurtling down the long, green slope to the cliffs, who knows? You might just make it.