News Poetry: This Winter’s Day

for Mary Oliver, 1/18/2019

A full quorum
of snow covers my backyard
in the color it should be
in January

Reclaiming the brown
winter-dormant grass
that ekes a droning
into the back of my mind

I write this tribute poem
to Mary Oliver
on the day after her passing

and it seems
it should be snowing,
the sun bowing homage
while it reads her poems

Allowing her to be
the one to shine today

Mary, of course,
would give the clouds
center stage

to slow us into
a deeper rhythm
for this one day,
this one wild and precious day

in this one wild
and precious life

She would take time
to count crows
and weave ibis wings
upon her tongue

Seeking prayers
in a blade of grass
beneath a broken bottle
in an abandoned city lot

her knees knowing the soil,
and the winds, her voice

and for so many of us,
her precious words

Wild and free

“What will you do with your one wild and precious life?” – Mary Oliver

Valerie A. Szarek performs her poetry and Native American flute throughout Colorado. She won Denver’s Blissfest Poet of the Year, 2018. Leather working artist and owner of "Breezy Mountain Leather,” her writings encompass Shamanism, earth-centered spirituality, travels to Egypt and Prague, politics, and recovery from addictions. Her poetry book, Signs of Life, is available on her website.


  1. What a wonderful tribute to Mary Oliver –it inspired me to read some of Oliver’s poems but I like Valerie’s as much or more!

  2. This poem inspired me to read Oliver’s work –and I love Valerie’s as much as Mary’s! What a great tribute…good work Valerie

  3. I have known Valerie for nearly 30 years. She had been one of my mentors as she is one of the most spiritual beings I’ve ever known and I share her passion and connection to nature. She writes eloquently about nature and most any topic. I love her style of poetry, not too cryptic, but understandable and beautifully put!

  4. Simply beautiful, Val. Tender tribute to an amazing poet. … “weave ibis wings upon her tongue …” ♥️ Thank you, old friend.

  5. Sublimely beautiful Val! I am sure Ms Oliver is bowing to you from the heavens and from the earth below. Thank you for sharing this poignant tribute to one of my favorite poets…like yourself!

  6. This is beautiful, Valerie! It speaks to me today as my patio plumps high with new snow, erasing all the violent and mean-spirited words that seem to be engulfing us.

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