Rocky Mountains

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Mary Oliver


There’s this shape, black as the entrance to a cave.

A longing wells up in its throat

like a blossom

as it breathes slowly.

What does the world

mean to you if you can’t trust it

to go on shining when you’re

not there? and there’s

a tree, long-fallen; once

the bees flew to it, like a procession

of messengers, and filled it

with honey.


I said to the chickadee, singing his heart out in the

green pine tree:

little dazzler

little song,

little mouthful.


The shape climbs up out of the curled grass. It

grunts into view. There is no measure

for the confidence at the bottom of its eyes—

there is no telling

the suppleness of its shoulders as it turns

and yawns.

Near the fallen tree

something—a leaf snapped loose

from the branch and fluttering down—tries to pull me

into its trap of attention.


It pulls me

into its trap of attention.

And when I turn again, the bear is gone.


Look, hasn’t my body already felt

like the body of a flower?


Look, I want to love this world

as thought it’s the last chance I’m ever going to get

to be alive

and know it.


Sometimes in late summer I won’t touch anything, not

the flowers, not the blackberries

brimming in the thickets; I won’t drink

from the pond; I won’t name the birds or the trees;

I won’t whisper my own name.

One morning

the fox came down the hill, glittering and confident,

and didn’t see me—and I thought:

so this is the world.

I’m not in it.

It is beautiful.

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