Shadows by Mary Oliver
Everyone knows the great energies running amok cast terrible shadows, that each of the so-called senseless acts has its thread looping back through the world and into a human heart. And meanwhile the gold-trimmed thunder wanders the sky; the river may be filling the cellars of the sleeping town. Cyclone, fire, and their merry cousins bring us to grief—but these are the hours with the old wooden-god faces; we lift them to our shoulders like so many black coffins, we continue walking into the future. I don't mean there are no bodies in the river, or bones broken by the wind. I mean everyone who has heard the lethal train-roar of the tornado swears there was no mention ever of any person, or reason—I mean the waters rise without any plot upon history, or even geography. Whatever power of the earth rampages, we turn to it dazed but anonymous eyes; whatever the name of the catastrophe, it is never the opposite of love.
Last Days by Mary Oliver
Things are changing; things are starting to spin, snap, fly off into the blue sleeve of the long afternoon. Oh and ooh come whistling out of the perished mouth of the grass, as things turn soft, boil black into substance and hue. As everything, forgetting its own enchantment, whispers: I too love oblivion why not it is full of second chances. Now, hiss the bright curls of the leaves. Now! booms the muscle of the wind.
August by Mary Oliver
When the blackberries hang swollen in the woods, in the brambles nobody owns, I spend
all day among the high branches, reaching my ripped arms, thinking
of nothing, cramming the black honey of summer into my mouth; all day my body
accepts what it is. In the dark creeks that run by there is this thick paw of my life darting among
the black bells, the leaves; there is this happy tongue.
The Summer Day by Mary Oliver
Who made the world? Who made the swan, and the black bear? Who made the grasshopper? This grasshopper, I mean— the one who has flung herself out of the grass, the one who is eating sugar out of my hand, who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down— who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes. Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face. Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away. I don't know exactly what a prayer is. I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass, how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields, which is what I have been doing all day. Tell me, what else should I have done? Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon? Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
The Gift by Mary Oliver
After the wind-bruised sea furrowed itself back into folds of blue, I found in the black wrack
a shell called the Neptune— tawny and white, spherical, with a tail
and a tower and a dark door, and all of it no larger
than my fist. It looked, you might say, very expensive. I thought of its travels
in the Atlantic’s wind-pounded bowl and wondered that it was still intact.
Ah yes, there was that door that held only the eventual, inevitable emptiness.
There’s that—there’s always that. Still, what a house to leave behind! I held it
like the wisest of books and imagined its travels toward my hand. And now, your hand.