The Leaf and the Cloud (Excerpt) – Mary Oliver

April 4, 2013 § 3 Comments

Every morning I wake, dress in the dark, go downstairs.

I look out of every window.
I go out and stand on the lawn.
In the west, the slightest light begins
flinging itself upward
and my heart beats (never an exception) with excitement.
(My gratitude to you, dear heart!)
Though it will all vanish utterly, and surely in
a little while,
I know what is wonderful–
I know what to hoard in my heart more than the value
of pearls and seeds.
There was the day you first spoke my name.
There was a white house at the edge of the harbour.
There was the swan, and the hummingbird.
There was music, and paper, and the tirelessly pursued work.
There were a thousand and again a thousand unforgettable days.
And still I’m looking at everything —
in the wide morning and the strike of noon
I’m humming, and clapping my hands
and I can’t stop
not for any reason
not even for the easiest thought.
And, anyway, what is thought
but elaborating, and organizing?
What is thought
but doubting, and crying out?
(In the dark, in the distance,
I can just see the heron
dimpling then calming her long wings.)
As reliable as anything you will ever know,
time moves its dim, heavy thumb over the shoreline
making its changes, its whimsical variations.
Yes, yes, the body never gets away from the world,
its endless granular shuffle and exchange–
everything is one, sooner or later —
the red fox and the bullrush,
the industrious ant and the sleepy bear,
the green crab and the minnow,
the pink boat and the dog in the pink boat
Shelley’s body and the gleaming sand.
When the praying mantis opens its wings
it becomes a green flower.
When the egg breaks
it becomes a bird.
When the river is finished, its avenues of light
fold and drop and fall into
and become the sea.
-Mary Oliver
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