Poetry Monday: White Owl Flies Into and Out of the Field By Mary Oliver

White Owl Flies Into and Out of the Field

Coming down out of the freezing sky
with its depths of light,
like an angel, or a Buddha with wings,
it was beautiful, and accurate,
striking the snow and whatever was there
with a force that left the imprint
of the tips of its wings — five feet apart —
and the grabbing thrust of its feet,
and the indentation of what had been running
through the white valleys of the snow —
and then it rose, gracefully,
and flew back to the frozen marshes
to lurk there, like a little lighthouse,
in the blue shadows —
so I thought:
maybe death isn’t darkness, after all,
but so much light wrapping itself around us —

as soft as feathers —
that we are instantly weary of looking, and looking,
and shut our eyes, not without amazement,
and let ourselves be carried,
as through the translucence of mica,
to the river that is without the least dapple or shadow,
that is nothing but light — scalding, aortal light —
in which we are washed and washed
out of our bones.

This Monday’s poetry selection comes from American poet Mary Oliver. Born in Ohio in 1935, she’s the winner of the National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize.

Mary Oliver’s poetry about the natural world is quiet, visual, and firmly rooted in place. Her writing educates and delight in just a few verses. For example, in this poem we learn how the owl snatches its prey from the ground with great efficiency, but we are so delighted by seeing the event through her eyes, that we don’t notice how ecologically ordinary the event is. What is so normal for the owl as a means of survival is extraordinary to us.

Now consider her vision of what death (for us) can be like. Fantastic stuff!

I hope you’re enjoying poetry Monday as much as I am. I’m learning more about the authors/poets and really appreciate being [forced] to read more poetry. Thank you Missy for this series.

And thank you Kathryn Lynard Soper for suggesting this week’s poem.

white owl


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