The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Wednesday and Washingtonian Walk

Snow Geese
By Mary Oliver

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.


My Tuesday involved a lot of geese and turtles, which I mean in a good way. I met Kay for lunch at Tara Thai and took a walk around the lake afterward, looking for goslings; I didn't find any, but I did find one of the snow geese with dark spots from the gaggle of goslings in 2006 that were clearly the product of a Canada goose father and snow goose mother, though two Canada geese were raising them and the dad never seemed to notice how unlikely it was that he had fathered them (see photo inset). I bought some fish food from one of the machines to try to feed a Canada goose with an injured wing, though the other geese and ducks tried to chase off the goose to steal the food.


As you can see, there were turtles and a heron in the drizzle at Washingtonian Lake as well. In the late afternoon, I asked Paul to go to Great Falls to see if we could find the goslings there. This was a much more successful gosling trip: we saw five families with babies, including one couple with nine goslings, ranging from little yellow fuzzballs to practically awkward gawky adolescent dinosaur geese. After dinner, we watched this week's The Flash (went from too drippy to please no Jesus allegory), Agents of SHIELD (I did NOT see that coming, May, you rock), and the Once Upon a Time we missed on Sunday (sorry, but I was not even slightly sniffly except because the Caps lost)!

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