Licht Years

where are you going, where have you been?

on smoke-colored wings

19

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So heavy
is the long-necked, long-bodied heron,
always it is a surprise
when her smoke-colored wings

open
and she turns
from the thick water,
from the black sticks

of the summer pond,
and slowly
rises into the air
and is gone.

Then, not for the first or the last time,
I take the deep breath
of happiness, and I think
how unlikely it is

that death is a hole in the ground,
how improbable
that ascension is not possible,
though everything seems so inert, so nailed

back into itself–
the muskrat and his lumpy lodge,
the turtle,
the fallen gate.

And especially it is wonderful
that the summers are long
and the ponds so dark and so many,
and therefore it isn’t a miracle

but the common thing,
this decision,
this trailing of the long legs in the water,
this opening up of the heavy body

into a new life: see how the sudden
gray-blue sheets of her wings
strive toward the wind; see how the clasp of nothing
takes her in.

~ Mary Oliver

19 thoughts on “on smoke-colored wings

  1. Gunta

    So wonderful you have these marvelous creatures in your neck of the woods, too. Mary Oliver’s words so fitting also! Very soothing post indeed.

  2. sued51

    Blue herons are my favorite! You got gorgeous shots. I read the first two stanzas of the poem and knew it was Mary Oliver before I finished it and scrolled down…great choice!

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