Thursday, March 22, 2012

"Such Singing in the Wild Branches"

It was spring
and finally I heard him
among the first leaves -
then I saw him clutching the limb

in an island of shade
with his red-brown feathers
all trim and neat for the new year.
First, I stood still

and thought of nothing.
Then I began to listen.
Then I was filled with gladness -
and that's when it happened,

when I seemed to float,
to be, myself, a wing or a tree -
and I began to understand
what the bird was saying,

and the sands in the glass
for a pure white moment
while gravity sprinkled upward

like rain, rising,
and in fact
it became difficult to tell just what it was that was singing -
it was the thrush for sure, but it seemed

not a single thrush, but himself, and all his brothers,
and also the trees around them,
as well as the gliding, long-tailed clouds
in the perfectly blue sky - all, all of them

were singing.
And, of course, yes, so it seemed,
so was I.
Such soft and solemn and perfect music doesn't last

for more than a few moments.
It's one of those magical places wise people
like to talk about.
One of the things they say about it, that is true,

is that, once you've been there,
you're there forever.
Listen, everyone has a chance.
Is it spring, is it morning?

Are there trees near you,
and does your own soul need comforting?
Quick, then - open the door and fly on your heavy feet; the song
may already be drifting away.
~ Mary Oliver ~

I vaguely recall writing about this poem on an earlier occasion, but Mary Oliver has a way of opening the heart in a thousands different ways. It is well-worth repeating.

When I visited the Ringling Museum I was fascinated with the banyans trees. There was a grove of them, most of them over 100 years of age. Towering above us, I found myself twirling around as I looked up at the sun shining through their intertwining branches. Like a child I was astonished by the mere presence of these lovely beings.

In some way, they seemed to communicate just as Mary Oliver so beautifully expresses in this poem. For more than a moment I seemed to float in one of those magical places! It's true, once you've been there, you're there forever. I recommend that you fly on your heavy feet and find an enchanting tree ~ there's nothing quite like it for comforting the soul.

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