Saturday, January 2, 2010

Herons in Winter in the Frozen Marsh

by Mary Oliver

All winter
two blue herons
hunkered in the frozen marsh,
like two columns of blue smoke.

What they ate
I can't imagine,
unless it was the small laces
of snow that settled

in the ruckus of the cattails,
or the glazed windows of ice
under the tired
pitchforks of their feet—

so the answer is
they ate nothing,
and nothing good could come of that.
They were mired in nature, and starving.

Still, every morning
they shrugged the rime from their shoulders,
and all day they
stood to attention

in the stubbled desolation.
I was filled with admiration,
sympathy,
and, of course, empathy.

It called for a miracle.
Finally the marsh softened,
and their wings cranked open
revealing the old blue light,

so that I thought: how could this possibly be
the blunt, dark finish?
First one, then the other, vanished
into the ditches and upheavals.

All spring, I watched the rising blue-green grass,
above its gleaming and substantial shadows,
toss in the breeze,
like wings.

6 comments:

  1. I love Mary Oliver's poetry. FYI she is coming to Cleveland in April as part of the Cleveland Public Library's Writers Center Stage series
    xo

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  2. Lovely. Mary is one of my favorites.
    Happy New Year Shiny. xoxo

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  3. Good heavens, but I love this one. And I was just reading it the other day. Thank you!

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  4. Good gracious, that as wonderful. Makes me happy.

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Hey, thanks for your thoughts and your time:>)