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Walking to Oak-Head Pond, and Thinking of the Ponds I Will Visit in the Next Days and Weeks

What is so utterly invisible
as tomorrow?
Not love,
not the wind,

not the inside of stone.
Not anything.
And yet, how often I'm fooled—
I'm wading along

in the sunlight—
and I'm sure I can see the fields and the ponds shining
days ahead—
I can see the light spilling

like a shower of meteors
into next week's trees,
and I plan to be there soon—
and, so far, I am

just that lucky,
my legs splashing
over the edge of darkness,
my heart on fire.

I don't know where
such certainty comes from—
the brave flesh
or the theater of the mind—

but if I had to guess
I would say that only 
what the soul is supposed to be
could send us forth

with such cheer
as even the leaf must wear
as it unfurls
its fragrant body, and shines

against the hard possibility of stoppage—
which, day after day,
before such brisk, corpuscular belief,
shudders, and gives way.

—Mary Oliver

from What Do We Know, Volume V, Number 3, Summer 2001
Perseus Books Group

Copyright 2001 by Mary Oliver.
All rights reserved.

Reprinted by permission of Perseus Books Group from What Do We Know. Copyright Summer 2001 by Mary Oliver. For further permissions information, contact Perseus Books Group, 10 East 53rd Street, New York, New York 10022-5299, 212-207-7600.

Poetry 180

About the Poet

Mary Oliver (1935- ) is a Pulitzer Prize winning poet. She has published several poetry collections, including Dog Songs: Poems (Penguin Books, 2015).

Learn more about Mary Oliver at The Poetry Foundation.