Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Who Is This?

Molly Maline Cook & Mary Oliver, Our World (2007)

In a letter
Photographer Unknown, 
Molly Malone Cook, Europe 1950s

My mother was an infant,
my father was a child,
so I grew up immensely dour
and wild... wild... wild.

Molly Maline Cook


All of a sudden she began to whistle. By all of a sudden I mean that for more than thirty years she had not whistled. It was thrilling. At first I wondered, who was in the house, what stranger? I was upstairs reading, and she was downstairs. As from the throat of a wild and cheerful bird, not caught but visiting, the sounds warbled and slid and doubled back and larked and soared.

Finally I said, Is that you? Is that you whistling? Yes, she said. I used to whistle, a long time ago. Now I see I can still whistle. And cadence after cadence she strolled through the house, whistling.

I know her so well, I think. I thought. Elbow and ankle. Mood and desire. Anguish and frolic. Anger too. And the devotions. And for all that, do we even begin to know each other? Who is this I've been living with for thirty years?

This clear, dark, lovely whistler?

 Mary Oliver 

Molly Malone Cook, Walker Evans at the bookshop (1967)

I discovered Our World at Uncharted Books, Chicago

also On Being with Krista Tippett: Mary Oliver "I got saved by the beauty of the world." (2015/2022).

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