ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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​Joy is not made to be a Crumb


Mary Oliver said, joy is not made to be a crumb

But she didn’t tell me how.

I grew up in a city

Making myself smaller and smaller.

Everything scared me.

Tell me how to look for life’s possibility,

Where to find the tendrils growing in

The glass and chrome of my anxiety

I don’t want poetry

I want a checklist

I want a spreadsheet

I want to know

How to quantify

The joy I’d like to magnify

Tell me.

The moment that love begins

Feels like head rush

Like too much ginger ale and gin

It is heady, unsettling

I don’t want to confront

The very real possibility

That I have no idea how to be happy.

But I have to try.

Like a kite dragging in a fallen wind

I have to struggle to fly.

And that’s why I believe you,

Ms Oliver.

I believe you when you say

Perhaps this is its way

Of fighting back.

I will wake up tomorrow.

I will flip through the pages

Of black and white news type

Telling of destruction to love and life.

I will wake up tomorrow.

And I will take a breath

Of crisp December air.

And if if if tomorrow,

If when I open the window tomorrow,

I unexpectedly feel joy.

I will not hesitate.


[I discovered Mary Oliver’s classic poem “Don’t Hesitate” right in the middle of the pandemic, and it was love at first sight. One evening, I sat staring at the poem, willing that I could have a conversation with her, and I found this poem tripping out of me. I am a performance artist, so this is a poem meant to be read aloud. You can read it aloud yourself or listen to a recording of me reading it.]

(An audio recording of this poem is available on the EPW website.)

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Updated On : 5th May, 2022
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