The Other Side is Salvation






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.
~Mary Oliver, “In Blackwater Woods”






When the earth and all that is in it glows golden
with the fire of sunrise and sunset;
just opening my eyes to see it
takes my breath away.
I can’t imagine letting it go
even when what is left is ashes
of the darkest night.
On the other side of loss is salvation.
My life depends on it.







6 thoughts on “The Other Side is Salvation

  1. Many thanks, Emily. And now, against such wordless beauty, I offer you a few words, penned yesterday, from that breathless time.


    please take a moment to tell me
    if there is anything as poignant as
    the end of October, its spent flames,
    brown, defamed, settling?

    Be in no hurry.
    I’ll just wait inside this leaden sky
    where a leaf-strewn path wends deep
    into a darkened wood, for your reply.


    Liked by 1 person

  2. The excerpt from Mary Oliver’s, ‘love what is mortal…when the time come let it go.’
    Submission, surrendering someone (something ?) whom we hold dear, relinquishing our will, accepting the inevitable? Oh, how desperately painful — and yet, Emily, you acknowledge so prophetically that ‘On the other side of loss is salvation. My (our) life depends on it.’
    Thank you for so much to dwell on in our precious but ever-fleeting lives in this, our temporary home.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes IT IS TOUGH. But it is one of the most precious gifts that He has given us. I have a terrible problem with it. I don’t think that ‘negotiating’ or ‘collective bargaining’ would work. (Although Abraham seemed to be effective in his pleas for a few inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah.) I know from a few instances in my experience when bargaining did not work. But I learned an important faith lesson in each instance. I have committed your stunning comment about the other side of loss and salvation to memory and will share the entire post with family and friends. Thank you for your kind reply.
    Peace and love to you and your family….


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