They’re not like peaches or squash.
Plumpness isn’t for them. They like
being lean, as if for the narrow
path. The beans themselves sit qui-
etly inside their green pods. In-
stinctively one picks with care,
never tearing down the fine vine,
never noticing their crisp bod-
ies, or feeling their willingness for
the pot, for the fire.
I have thought sometimes that
something—I can’t name it—
watches as I walk the rows, accept-
ing the gift of their lives to assist
I know what you think: this is fool-
ishness. They’re only vegetables.
Even the blossoms with which they
begin are small and pale, hardly sig-
nificant Our hands, or minds, our
feet hold more intelligence. With
this I have no quarrel.
But, what about virtue?
“Beans” by Mary Oliver. Reprinted by the permission of The Charlotte Sheedy Literary Agency as agent for the author. Copyright © Mary Oliver 2004 with permission of Bill Reichblum
I’m Nobody! Who are you?
Are you – Nobody – too?
Then there’s a pair of us!
Don't tell! they'd advertise – you know!
How dreary – to be – Somebody!
How public – like a Frog –
To tell one’s name – the livelong June –
To an admiring Bog!
Poetry used by permission of the publishers and the Trustees of Amherst College from The Poems of Emily Dickinson, Ralph W. Franklin ed., Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. Copyright © 1998 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. Copyright © 1951, 1955, 1979 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College.