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Snow Geese

Oh, to love what is lovely, and will not last! 
What a task
to ask 

of anything, or anyone, 

yet it is ours, 
and not by the century or the year, but by the hours. 

One fall day I heard
above me, and above the sting of the wind, a sound
I did not know, and my look shot upward; it was 

a flock of snow geese, winging it
faster than the ones we usually see, 
and, being the color of snow, catching the sun

so they were, in part at least, golden. I 

held my breath
as we do
sometimes
to stop time
when something wonderful
has touched us 

as with a match, 
which is lit, and bright, 
but does not hurt
in the common way, 

but delightfully, 
as if delight
were the most serious thing
you ever felt. 

The geese
flew on, 
I have never seen them again. 

Maybe I will, someday, somewhere.
Maybe I won’t.
It doesn’t matter.
What matters
is that, when I saw them, 
I saw them
as through the veil, secretly, joyfully, clearly.

— Mary Oliver, in Why I Wake Early and Wild Geese (Selected Poems)

18th November 2012
Tags: Mary Oliver Snow Geese thoughts that breathe a winter soul poetry lit

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