Mary Oliver, Lonely White Fields

Lonely, White Fields

Every night
the owl
with his wild monkey-face
calls through the black branches,
and the mice freeze
and the rabbits shiver
in the snowy fields –
and then there is the long, deep trough of silence
when he stops singing, and steps
into the air.
I don’t know
what death’s ultimate
purpose is, but I think
this: whoever dreams of holding his
life in his fist
year after year into the hundreds of years
has never considered the owl –
how he comes, exhausted,
through the snow,
through the icy trees,
past snags and vines, wheeling
out of barns and church steeples,
turning this way and that way
through the mesh of every obstacle –
undeterred by anything
filling himself time and time again
with a red and digestible joy –
sickled up from the lonely, white fields –
and how at daybreak,
as though everything had been done
that must be done, the fields
swell with a rosy light,
the owl fades
back into the branches,
the snow goes on falling
flake after perfect flake.

 Mary Oliver  

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