Starlings in Winter

by Mary Oliver

Chunky and noisy,
but with stars in their black feathers,
they spring from the telephone wire
and instantly

they are acrobats
in the freezing wind.
And now, in the theater of air,
they swing over buildings,

dipping and rising;
they float like one stippled star
that opens,
becomes for a moment fragmented,

then closes again;
and you watch
and you try
but you simply can't imagine

how they do it
with no articulated instruction, no pause,
only the silent confirmation
that they are this notable thing,

this wheel of many parts, that can rise and spin
over and over again,
full of gorgeous life.
Ah, world, what lessons you prepare for us,

even in the leafless winter,
even in the ashy city.
I am thinking now
of grief, and of getting past it;

I feel my boots
trying to leave the ground,
I feel my heart
pumping hard, I want

to think again of dangerous and noble things.
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings.

please note: photo by Ingo


  1. I love the poem and I even like starlings for their busy, noisy energy. And their sparkling plumage.

    Your header is wonderful but then again, I'm a fan of black birds.

  2. Starlings are so mundane and yet so ebullient and extraordinary en masse that they are an example of cheeky courage and possibilities for the rest of us.

  3. haven't been here for awhile, great poem to come back to. i love watching all birds but the way starlings descend, plunder and bolt into the blue is amazing. take care, jack......hows the weather in cin city?

  4. Love Mary Oliver. This is beautiful. Thank you.

  5. Love this. Love her and I needed this tonight. Thank you. xoxo


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