What Weather Can Do – Poem by John Oliver

– for Brian and Julia on their wedding day (Pittsfield, VT 9-24-2011)


In Whatever Weather


I have seen what weather can do.
I have clear memories
of hot summer swimming mornings
with Brian in the gorge,
of the two of us basking,
lizard-like on rocks,
of the riverwater, icy clean and glorious,
running off us in droplets
and evaporating like every care
I had ever had.
The august humidity has baked
these mornings into me,
these moments of peace
with my friend.
Just to think of them reminds me
that I love him.
This is some of what weather can do.
And now come with me
to one of the few and fleeting times
I have ever truly known the color blue.
Think of Spring,
of that first ecstatic day
when the grip of winter’s
frozen fingers finally slips
and boom – with a sudden gasp
the world is nothing but birds
and buds and blooms.
Purples, yellows, ever imaginable green.
Now follow the sound of laughter across
a stone patio to Julia,
perhaps the first time I have ever met her,
amd watch her head tip back with the type
of smile that’s impossible in winter,
alive, bright, open
like every other blooming spring thing.
Look at her eyes turned upward,
teaching the sky to remember blue.
Yes. I have seen what weather can do.
But, too,
I have seen cold seep
into the hearts of growing trees
and have watched them burst
from the inside out.
I have gotten lost in blizzards,
and fog.
I have watched it rain,
and rain, and rain
until the very earth is
eaten away, and houses
are cracked open
and let to run on the ground
like broken eggs.
Yes. I have seen what weather can do.
And so have these two.
They have watched each other’s backs grow strong again.
They have held each other’s hands.
They have built a home, a shelter, a life.
They have built a love that stands,
   no matter what weather can do.
Do you see how the looks they give each other
let in the light?
Do you feel how their mutual care
keeps out the cold?
Do you notice how the bricks
of their intelligence, creativity,
and generosity are cemented with
a mortar made of their own mashed-up
and acknowledged faults?
Even now, they have us here gathered
under their compassionate roof.
That noise is Julia doing goofy walks
in the kitchen and Brian laughing over
the soup.
Yes. In whatever weather,
I have seen what love can do.
Thank you, you two.
I am humbled, and awed.
Thank you.

Written by John Milton Oliver
John Milton Oliver is a writer, teacher, and dear friend of Brian and Julia’s living in Vermont. If you have a poem to share or would like to reproduce this poem (or many others), please email him at johnmiltonoliver@gmail.com.

“Thank you people of Pittsfield for your courage and care and generous hearts. Our thoughts are with you.”


October 6, 2011
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