Friday, August 12, 2016

The Fragrance of Cinnamon

Today is Poetry Friday, so stop by To Read To Write To Be where Julianne is hosting the roundup. I'm heading off to the wonderful Benedictine Sisters Retreat Center in northern Alabama for a week of breathing, meditating, yoga, and some precious friends. Isn't it amazing how setting becomes a character in so many stories and poems. I love this place. It holds that "fragrance of cinnamon" for me.  Enjoy this poem from Mary Oliver and let your olfactory organs carry you to somewhere special.

In Blackwater Woods
by Mary Oliver

Look, the trees
are turning
their own bodies
into pillars

of light,
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
and fulfillment,

the long tapers
of cattails
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders

of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is

nameless now.
Every year
I have ever learned

in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side

is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.

“In Blackwater Woods” by Mary Oliver, from American Primitive. © Back Bay Books, 1983.


  1. One of my favorite books of poetry ever. Letting go of summer is one of the hardest yearly challenges.

  2. Living in this world holds such joy to hold close. Oh the pain of letting it go. Thank you for Mary Oliver and enjoy your retreat!

  3. Yes - such a gorgeous poem.
    Have a FANTASTIC and nurturing space of days in your special place, Dear Friend. :0)

  4. Thanks for sharing this Mary Oliver poem. I love the image of trees "giving off the rich fragrance of cinnamon and fulfillment." Have a wonderful time at your retreat. What a delightful way to create a space for quiet and appreciation before summer ends.

  5. What a wonderful poem to share. Enjoy spending time in your special place!

  6. What a beautiful, restful poem. Thank-you for sharing.

  7. A beautiful poem, and matches with your retreat so well.

  8. I can imagine how refreshing and fulfilling this week will be for you, Dori, as you join the trees as "pillars of off the rich fragrance of cinnamon."

  9. Thank you for this poem. I am good at the holding, but so bad at the letting go.

  10. Taking in the fragrance of cinnamon reminds me of a peaceful state of rest in yoga where space surrounds but life is miles away. Enjoy your restful trip, Dori and save a spot on the mat for me in spirit.

  11. Have a wonderful week of rejuvenation! Thanks for sharing this bit of serenity with us. I love "the blue shoulders of the ponds".