Mary Oliver has won a Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award.

‘Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?’ is a line that appears near the conclusion of Mary Oliver’s poem, “The Summer Day,” collected in New and Selected Poems (1992). This response speaks to my present circumstances.

Oliver’s rumination of a grasshopper eating sugar from out of her hand in a grassy meadow opens the existential question: How did the world around us happen? What is our part, given the mortality of all the living? How to participate when it will all end?

The specificity of this grasshopper jawing the treat, gazing at the crumbles with huge eyes, washing her face with forearms, then flitting off suggests full participation in the present moment—as if each present moment, like the sugar particles, has its sweetness that opens onto even fuller life or ends it. Either way, individuation abounds or transition concludes with the death of the physical body.

In my perception, Oliver seems to have been well practiced in the gentle discipline of the present moment, a skill that grounded her within the energy of Creator God ever fashioning multiple expanding universes, one in which this grasshopper met a poet.