by Mary Oliver
opens his throat
among the thorns
for his own reasons
but doesn’t mind
if we pause
and learn something
he doesn’t stop,
his gray head
with the frightfully bright eyes,
his supple tail,
listen, if you would listen.
There’s no end
to good talk,
to passion songs,
to the melodies
this tree is mine,
to the wholesome
of being alive
on a patch
of this green earth
in the deep
pleasure of summer.
What a bird!
Your clocks, he says plainly,
which are always ticking,
do not have to be listened to.
The spirit of his every word.
You can find this poem in the collection Evidence by Mary Oliver.
“She had forgotten how the August night”
by Edna St. Vincent Millay
She had forgotten how the August night
Was level as a lake beneath the moon,
In which she swam a little, losing sight
Of shore; and how the boy, who was at noon
Simple enough, not different from the rest,
Wore now a pleasant mystery as he went,
Which seemed to her an honest enough test
Whether she loved him, and she was content.
So loud, so loud the million crickets’ choir. . .
So sweet the night, so long-drawn-out and late. . .
And if the man were not her spirit’s mate,
Why was her body sluggish with desire?
Stark on the open field the moonlight fell,
But the oak tree’s shadow was deep and black and
secret as a well.
You can find this poem in Collected Poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay.
Summer at North Farm
by Stephen Kuusisto
Finnish rural life, ca. 1910
Fires, always fires after midnight,
the sun depending in the purple birches
and gleaming like a copper kettle.
By the solstice they’d burned everything,
the bad-luck sleigh, a twisted rocker,
things “possessed” and not-quite-right.
The bonfire coils and lurches,
big as a house, and then it settles.
The dancers come, dressed like rainbows
(if rainbows could be spun),
and linking hands they turn
to the melancholy fiddles.
A red bird spreads its wings now
and in the darker days to come.
You can find this poem in Only Bread, Only Light.