night work

photo by natalia drepina

I thought the earth
remembered me, she
took me back so tenderly, arranging
her dark skirts, her pockets
full of lichens and seeds.  I slept
as never before, a stone
on the riverbed, nothing
between me and the white fire of the stars
but my thoughts, and they floated
light as moths among the branches
 of the perfect trees.  All night
I heard the small kingdoms breathing
around me, the insects, and the birds
who do their work in the darkness.   All night
I rose and fell, as if in water, grappling
with a luminous doom.  By morning
I had vanished at least a dozen times
into something better.

~ Sleeping In the Forest by Mary Oliver

from Twelve Moons


Adullamite said...

You are something better than a dark night in a forest.

soubriquet said...

By morning I was already awake, covered in bites from a myriad of tiny predators......

red dirt girl said...

Hi Adullamite! You have a very happy birthday coming up, don't you??! I'm guessing it's the 2nd of July, but I might be off a day or two.

A lot of peoples here in 'Merica read this poem of Mary's as a prayer - as in a prayer for those dark times in life. Now my life is none so dark these days (thankfully) so I read it more as mother earth cradling me on a camping trip ....and Soub is probably right - with lots of skeeter bites to count in the morning.

Nevertheless, I do like Mary's transcendentalistic point of view (since, while I love God etc etc, I abhor most organized religions)

Would you care to expand your comment?


red dirt girl said...

Soub - I'm keeping my mule lips sealed .......!


Lin said...

Soubriquet's comment cracked me up.

You KNOW I love Mary Oliver. :) Her poems are very simple, but very complex as well.

J Cosmo Newbery said...

It's a very satisfying work, touches some inner places in us all.

Kay G. said...

I have been wanting to do a Moonlight Hike at Panola Mountain, somehow I think your poem is a sign that I should do so!