Mary Oliver (born 1935)

Poetry on Gratitude

Mary Oliver:

Gratitude (1997)

Edited by Peter Y. Chou


I was walking the field,
in the fatness of spring
the field was flooded with water, water stained black,
black from the tissues of leaves, oak mostly, but also
beech, also
blueberry, bay.
Then the big hawk rose. In her eyes
I could see how thoroughly she
hated me. And there was her nest, like a round raft

with three white eggs in it, just

above the black water.

* * *

She floats away
climbs the invisible air
on her masculine wings

then glides back

agitated responsible
climbs again angry

does not look at me.

Halfway to my knees
in the black water
I look up

I cannot stop looking up

how much time has passed
I can hardly see her now

swinging in that blue blaze.

* * *

There are days when I rise from my desk desolate.
There are days when the field water and the slender grasses
      and the wild hawks
have it all over the rest of us

whether or not they make clear sense, ride the beautiful
long spine of grammar, whether or not they rhyme.

Mary Oliver, West Wind: Poems and Prose Poems
Houghton Mifflin, Boston (1997), p. 35

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© Peter Y. Chou,
P.O. Box 390707, Mountain View, CA 94039
email: peter(at) (1-3-2006)