Sunday, December 9, 2007

Down, Above and Below

We just took our last walk of the night. The clouds are heavy and low, a delicate mist has settled over the park and the entire night has been painted a soft orange under the clouds reflecting the street lamps. Were they not here I wonder if the world would be blue, or even visible at all. The silence is loud, a kind of thick cottony deafness brought on by the snow, still pure and unmarred by the feet others, my favorite kind of snow to walk in.

There were geese flying overhead. I did not see them but I heard the heavy beats of their wings coming from somewhere between the clouds and the ground, a thick, rhythmic flap, weighted and meaty. This is the season for geese, who make what seems an endless migration from one small Denver lake to another. They never quite manage to leave, just rotate homes. They are permanent in their impermanence, their sticky green dropping sometimes the only reminder they were here at all. Sidewalks become treacherous places, each step a careful negotiation, but the snow hides things, if only temporarily, and we can pretend every step is safe.

Because I'm on a Mary Oliver kick I thought I'd share another poem I've read recently. We seem to be in sync this weekend, Mary and I, but she is much better at capturing a moment than I could hope to be.

Snow Geese

Oh, to love what is lovely, and will not last!
What a task
to ask
of anything, or anyone,
yet it is ours,
and not by the century or the year, but by the hours.
One fall day I heard
above me, and above the sting of the wind, a sound
I did not know, and my look shot upward; it was
a flock of snow geese, winging it
faster than the ones we usually see,
and, being the color of snow, catching the sun
so they were, in part at least, golden. I
held my breath
as we do
to stop time
when something wonderful
has touched us
as with a match,
which is lit, and bright,
but does not hurt
in the common way,
but delightfully,
as if delight
were the most serious thing
you ever felt.
The geese
flew on,
I have never seen them again.
Maybe I will, someday, somewhere.
Maybe I won't.
It doesn't matter.
What matters
is that, when I saw them,
I saw them
as through the veil, secretly, joyfully, clearly.

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