Posted in Contributing Writer, Poems/Poetry

Hot Chocolate With Mary


the work of Victoria C. Slotto

The leaves of an elm splash
dappled sunlight on the forest
floor. A chill lingers in the
air so we share hot chocolate
from a thermos, pour the creamy
liquid into insulated mugs.

Age does not prevent her
from sprawling on the earth
she loves so passionately.
She leans against the tree’s
stout trunk, says, “I’m yours.”

My mouth is dry like when
the dentist stuffs it full of
cotton rolls. Disbelief numbs
me till she laughs—a sound
as real as songs of her beloved
birds that sing their prayers
in unison from the surrounding
branches and marshy meadows.

“I’m yours,” she says again,
reminding me I’m here to do
the interview I’ve wished for,
nurtured in my imagination
since I discovered her.

“Your life,” I coax, knowing
that but a single word suffices.

As for myself
I swung the door open and there was
The wordless singing world. And I ran for my life.

“You ran to it?”

“Yes, immersed myself in beauty.”
While on and on the sparrow sings.

“And aging? If you don’t mind, that is.”

In the deep fall, don’t you imagine the leaves think
how comfortable it will be to touch
the earth…?”

…and what shall I wish for myself but,
being so struck by the lightning of years
to live with what is left, loving.

“Any regrets?”

There wasn’t
time enough for all the wonderful things
I could think of to do

In a single day…

“If you could choreograph your death?”

…Maybe on a midsummer night’s eve,
And without fanfare.

“About death?”

So it is
if the heart has devoted itself to love, there is
not a single inch of emptiness. Gladness gleams
all the way to the grave.

“And after?”

If there’s a temple, I haven’t found it yet,
I simply go on drifting, in the heaven of grass
and the weeds.

She takes her leave.
I watch her walk across the fields,
stopping to listen
or to follow the flight of a heron.
She’s alone now
with Percy her dog
and memories of having lived well.

I would do just about anything to spend an hour with Mary Oliver, a poet who has touched my life and my writing so deeply. This is an imagined interview. The responses in italics are all snippets of her poetry chosen from  New and Selected Poems, Volume Two.

– Victoria C. Slotto

Victoria and Dave Slotto
Victoria and Dave Slotto
Victoria at the Palm Springs Writer's Expo March 2012
Victoria at the Palm Springs Writer’s Expo March 2012

VICTORIA C. SLOTTO (Victoria C. Slotto, Author: Fiction, Poetry and Writing Prompts) ~  a Contributing Writer to Into the Bardo ,attributes her writing influences to her spirituality, her dealings with grief and loss, and nature. Having spent twenty-eight years as a nun, Victoria left the convent but continued to work as a nurse in the fields of death and dying, Victoria has seen and experienced much. A result of Victoria’s life experience is the ability to connect with readers on an intimate level. She resides in Reno, Nevada, with her husband and two dogs and spends several months of the year in Palm Desert, California.

Winter is Past is her first novel. It was published in 2012 by Lucky Bat Books. She has a second novel in process and also a poetry chapbook. Victoria is also an accomplished blogger and poet who has assumed a leadership role in d’Verse Poet’s Pub. You can read more ofher fine poetry HERE.


The focus of "The BeZine," a publication of The Bardo Group Beguines, is on sacred space (common ground) as it is expressed through the arts. Our work covers a range of topics: spirituality, life, death, personal experience, culture, current events, history, art, and photography and film. We share work here that is representative of universal human values however differently they might be expressed in our varied religions and cultures. We feel that our art and our Internet-facilitated social connection offer a means to see one another in our simple humanity, as brothers and sisters, and not as “other.” This is a space where we hope you’ll delight in learning how much you have in common with “other” peoples. We hope that your visits here will help you to love (respect) not fear. For more see our Info/Mission Statement Page.

4 thoughts on “Hot Chocolate With Mary

  1. Dear Jamie: Lovely post. Mary Oliver is a favorite of mine too! As I shared with our “life-threatening illness group”
    at IMC yesterday.

    A poem for our group. This time by our favorite, Mary Oliver. Always worth reading again.

    Love and appreciation,


    Wild Geese

    You do not have to be good.
    You do not have to walk on your knees
    for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
    You only have to let the soft animal of your body
    love what it loves.
    Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
    Meanwhile the world goes on.
    Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
    are moving across the landscapes,
    over the prairies and the deep trees,
    the mountains and the rivers.
    Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
    are heading home again.
    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.


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