Who do we know?

Molly Malone Cook (American photographer, born 1925) died in 2005 at the age of 80.

Her partner, lover and ‘soul mate’, the poet Mary Oliver (1935-2019, American), wrote Our World, elegy and memoir with photographs taken by Molly Malone Cook.


Below is an extract from this memoir taken from one of Maria Popova’s newsletters: Brain Pickings.











All of a sudden she began to whistle. By all of a sudden
I mean that for more than thirty years she had not
whistled. It was thrilling. At first I wondered, who was
in the house, what stranger? I was upstairs reading, and
she was downstairs. As from the throat of a wild and
cheerful bird, not caught but visiting, the sounds warbled and slid and doubled back and larked and soared.


Finally I said, Is that you? Is that you whistling? Yes, she said. I used to whistle, a long time ago. Now I see I can still whistle. And cadence after cadence she strolledthrough the house, whistling.


I know her so well, I think. I thought. Elbow and ankle. Mood and desire. Anguish and frolic. Anger too. And the devotions. And for all that, do we even begin
to know each other? Who is this I’ve been living with for thirty years?


This clear, dark, lovely whistler? 








The Whistlers, 2005, stoneware, paint, pastel, synthetic hair.

Tip Toland, American born 1950.  On display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY in 2018



South African amethyst found in a West Philly fair




But then again, who do we begin to know?


On a warm day this summer, I bought this sliver of South African amethyst for a friend who was not with me then.


When I saw it and bent down to pick it up and opened my bag to find the money, and handed the money to the seller and put the amethyst in my bag, 

I know that it was not only I who did all this. I could see myself bending over the table with glittering semi-precious stones and other natural formations, opening my bag etc.


I do not know who else was with me there.








When she thanks me, I’ll tell her: thank the others also.  The other one or however many, I’ll tell her.


 She will look at me and smile. Perhaps. 






One thought on “Who do we know?

  1. Such a lovely commentary, Sarah. Though, while the whistler is a joyous discovery of sound, I have to say that the discoverer of the Amethyst adds more to the joyous discovery of beauty!

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