You do not have to be good
She told me this. And
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
I did not tell her that I was unsettled by this.
I nodded sagely. Because that is what I do when I read Mary Oliver.
Even if I am alone in a room.
The way that she speaks, as if only to me,
I felt as though I could, in theory, have told her that I was unsettled by this.
But in truth, I nodded sagely, alone in a room. Unsettled.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
I was not ready to yet begin to chew on these words,
the others were dry in my mouth, still.
I do not want to be bad. Ms. Oliver. I do not want to be bad.
Do not permit me amorality. Because this is what it is.
I have to be good.
There was a breath outside the garden.
There was God in me before exile.
What if I didn’t have to be good.
Because I already was.
The soft animal of my body.