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Poem Number 057

White-Eyes

Mary Oliver

In winter
    all the singing is in
         the tops of the trees
              where the wind-bird

with its white eyes
    shoves and pushes
         among the branches.
              Like any of us

he wants to go to sleep,
    but he's restless—
         he has an idea,
              and slowly it unfolds

from under his beating wings
    as long as he stays awake
         But his big, round music, after all,
             is too breathy to last.

So, it's over.
    In the pine-crown
         he makes his nest,
              he's done all he can.

I don't know the name of this bird,
    I only imagine his glittering beak
         tucked in a white wing
              while the clouds—

which he has summoned
    from the north—
         which he has taught
              to be mild, and silent—

thicken, and begin to fall
    into the world below
         like stars, or the feathers
              of some unimaginable bird

that loves us,
    that is asleep now, and silent—
         that has turned itself
              into snow.

 

Copyright 2002 by Mary Oliver.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced with permission (click for permissions information).