Rocky Mountains

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Egrets

Mary Oliver


Where the path closed

down and over,

through the scumbled leaves,

fallen branches,

through the knotted catbrier,

I kept going. Finally

I could not

save my arms

from thorns; soon

the mosquitoes

smelled me, hot

and wounded, and came

wheeling and whining.

And that's how I came

to the edge of the pond:

black and empty

except for a spindle

of bleached reeds

at the far shore

which, as I looked,

wrinkled suddenly

into three egrets - - -

a shower

of white fire!

Even half-asleep they had

such faith in the world

that had made them - - -

tilting through the water,

unruffled, sure,

by the laws

of their faith not logic,

they opened their wings

softly and stepped

over every dark thing.


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