Poetry Friday: "Sometimes, I Am Startled Out of Myself", Barbara Crooker


Poetry Friday is hosted by Irene Latham at Live Your Poem

A few weeks ago, Linda Baie shared Mary Oliver’s magnificent “Wild Geese,”  one of my very favorite poems.  I love those last few lines:

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting-
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

I was thinking of Oliver’s poem, geese,  and the need to find one’s “place in the family of things,” when I came upon this poem which mirrored Oliver’s poem in mood and beauty:



Sometimes, I Am Startled Out of Myself,

by Barbara Crooker

<!– (from Radiance) –>

like this morning, when the wild geese came squawking,
flapping their rusty hinges, and something about their trek
across the sky made me think about my life, the places
of brokenness, the places of sorrow, the places where grief
has strung me out to dry. And then the geese come calling,
the leader falling back when tired, another taking her place.
Hope is borne on wings. Look at the trees. They turn to gold
for a brief while, then lose it all each November.
Through the cold months, they stand, take the worst
weather has to offer. And still, they put out shy green leaves
come April, come May. The geese glide over the cornfields,
land on the pond with its sedges and reeds.
You do not have to be wise. Even a goose knows how to find
shelter, where the corn still lies in the stubble and dried stalks.
All we do is pass through here, the best way we can.
They stitch up the sky, and it is whole again.
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14 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: "Sometimes, I Am Startled Out of Myself", Barbara Crooker

  1. And I love Barbara Crooker, too, Tara. How gorgeous this is, a true reflection, isn't it? I love the way the title moves us right into the poem! And "hope is born on wings". Thank you for this, and the link!

  2. I, too, like that she makes the first line of her poem the title. Also, "All we do is pass through here, the best way we can." — I appreciate that she takes the pressure off! 🙂

  3. One of my favorite Barbara poems — actually there are too many favorites to name. You've paired the poem with the perfect photo. What a beautiful way to illustrate the healing power of nature. Now I'll think of this poem whenever I hear geese overhead.

  4. This poem stitches me up and makes me whole again. I keep reading Janet F.'s ebullient enthusiasm for students memorizing poetry. I have a few poems in my heart, and I'm thinking this needs to be the next one. "All we do is pass through here, the best way we can." Yes.Thank you for this. I am still in desperate need for poems like this in my life right now…but things are slowly, slowly getting better. On an unrelated note, before I did the more of this/less of that with my students, we watched bits of the Malala interview with Jon Stewart. I wanted them to have a glimpse of what education REALLY means (beyond recess and gym). I think some of them "got" it.

  5. "All we do is pass through here, the best way we can." This line is deep in my bones at the moment, too, Mary Lee. And, in a strange way, Malala figures in the same plane of thought – to hear her speak is to know the power of those words, right?

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