Friday, March 11, 2011

Alligators and Gratitude

Alligator Poem

I knelt down
at the edge of the water,
and if the white birds standing
in the tops of the trees whistled any warning
I didn't understand,
I drank up to the very moment it came
crashing toward me,
its tail flailing
like a bundle of swords,
slashing the grass,
and the inside of its cradle-shaped mouth
and rimmed with teeth--

and that's how I almost died
of foolishness
in beautiful Florida
But I didn't.

I leaped aside, and fell,
and it streamed past me, crushing everything in its path
as it swept down to the water
and threw itself in,
and, in the end,
this isn't a poem about foolishness
but about how I rose from the ground
and saw the world as if for the second time,
the way it really is.

The water, that circle of shattered glass,
healed itself with a slow whisper
and lay back
with the back-lit light of polished steel,
and the birds, in the endless waterfalls of the trees,
shook open the snowy pleats of their wings, and drifted away,
while, for a keepsake, and to steady myself,
I reached out,
I picked the wild flowers from the grass around me--
blue stars
and blood-red trumpets
on long green stems--
for hours in my trembling hands they glittered
like fire.

~ Mary Oliver ~

There are so many alligators in Florida. I see several each time we are on a golf course. I can relate to what Mary Oliver is saying because as I was attempting to capture one in a photo, I realized this particular gator was a mother surrounded by about a dozen hatchlings. When she noticed my presence, she whipped her head around. I didn't wait long enough to see if she would take chase. 

The terror that instantly filled my heart gave me the gift of seeing the world as it truly is. Being alive and so very present. Every fiber of my being alive with gratitude!

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