Long Walk Home to Myself

My copy of the anthology of Mary Oliver’s poetry is dog-eared.

I dog-ear my books.

It took me years to bring my self to do this terrible thing; to fold the delicate paper, to crease the page;

Years to desecrate a book out of Love.

I have hundreds of books of Poetry.

I can easily tell the books I have had since I was very young by the tiny pieces of torn paper I used for decades

to mark my favorite Poems.

The books look like they are wearing little wigs, the pieces of paper curling over the pages.

It took me years to let go and dog-ear the pages of my books of Poetry.

I have for  a very long time now gently folded the edge of the page of my favorite Poems.

I do this with reverence.

I can find my Words now. Easily and without risk of losing tiny slips of paper in the process.

Tiny slips of paper marking my way back. Breadcrumbs leading home.

One of the Poems in my copy of the anthology is The Journey.

I first read this poem when I was knee-deep in the dark therapy of my mid twenties.

I first read these words and understood what it means to care for yourself;

To become a Woman who can Mother herself to Wholeness.

The day my mother died I read this poem in the hall outside her room.

There were times I was not allowed in the room.

The death of a life long alcoholic is not a simple death.

There were times I was not allowed in the room.

There were reasons no daughter would want to be in the room of a mother dying the death of a life long alcoholic.  Hospice made sure of that.

I will be eternally grateful to them for their Honesty and their Grace.

I am also grateful for the Poets.

I am grateful for Mary Oliver and her words which helped me learn to let go and to Begin;

To begin my life as a Woman without a mother.

Funny that this lesson came 25 years before my mother died;

25 years before my mother died the death of a life long alcoholic.

My moment of 100 Fucking Percent Forgiveness came hours before

I was asked gently by Hospice to leave the room.

My moment, my mothers moment, Our moment,

came and it went,

but by God;

It came.

Our moment came before I needed to leave the room.


Timing is everything. There is a rhythm to everything.

Without Poets leading the way 25 years before I would not have been able to sit in that room

and be with the woman I called mother on the day she left this world.

Therapy heals. Poets do the rest.

The Journey by Mary Oliver is a tonic.

 This Poem is the Tonic that began my long walk home to myself over two decades ago.

This poem kept me solid in the hall outside my mother’s room

the day she died the death of a life long alcoholic.

Peace,   Jen

The Journey

 by Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew

what you had to do, and began,

though the voices around you

kept shouting

their bad advice—

though the whole house

began to tremble

and you felt the old tug

at your ankles.

“Mend my life!”

each voice cried.

But you didn’t stop.

You knew what you had to do,

though the wind pried

with its stiff fingers

at the very foundations,

though their melancholy

was terrible.

It was already late

enough, and a wild night,

and the road full of fallen

branches and stones.

But little by little,

as you left their voices behind,

the stars began to burn

through the sheets of clouds,

and there was a new voice

which you slowly

recognized as your own,

that kept you company

as you strode deeper and deeper

into the world,

determined to do

the only thing you could do—

determined to save

the only life you could save.

~ by Step On a Crack on December 19, 2011.

13 Responses to “Long Walk Home to Myself”

  1. A W E S O M E !!!!!! Awesome writing, awesome emotion, awesome descriptions of your mom, … seeing you sitting alone in the hall reading your poetry, dog-earring your poetry. Beautiful.

    And, the moment.

    Beautiful poetess, our Ms. Oliver. She writes like you, my love!


  2. What a strong and beautiful poem. This poem helped to make you the strong woman you needed to be to finally find a way to heal yourself with the forgiveness you finally found for your mother.

    Poetry is the master healer.


  3. Congratulations on claiming your life! You do it beautifully.


  4. Thank you my friend for allowing us to walk with you on your journey home.


  5. My mom also died the death of a life long alcoholic and there were times I was not allowed in the room. I wish I’d had this poem to read, instead I cried. I was angry that her death was as ugly as her drinking. Thanks for sharing. Your strength inspires me.


  6. […] Long Walk Home to Myself (steponacrack.wordpress.com) […]


  7. Inspired, you are! Thank you for posting the poem along with your heart on this page of grief.

    You continue to be in my prayers and on my mind.


  8. Beautiful and from the heart! You have been through so much but it has made you stronger and more flexible, like a willow. Smooth seas make not good sailors.


  9. Beautiful! This poem attached itself to me and is now my favorite, at least for now, for this stage……


  10. Thank God for the new voice that truly is your own and keep on saving the only life you can.


  11. […] Long Walk Home to Myself (steponacrack.wordpress.com) […]


  12. Loving and lovely.


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