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Reckless Poem

Today again I am hardly myself.
It happens over and over.
It is heaven-sent.

It flows through me
like the blue wave.
Green leaves – you may believe this or not – 
have once or twice
emerged from the tips of my fingers

deep in the woods,
in the reckless seizure of spring.

Though, of course, I also know that other song,
the sweet passion of one-ness.

Just yesterday I watched an ant crossing a path, through the
      tumbled pine needles she toiled.
And I thought: she will never live another life but this one.
And I thought: if she lives her life with all her strength
      is she not wonderful and wise?
And I continued this up the miraculous pyramid of everything
      until I came to myself.

And still, even in these northern woods, on these hills of sand,
I have flown from the other window of myself
to become white heron, blue whale,
      red fox, hedgehog.
Oh, sometimes already my body has felt like the body of a flower!
Sometimes already my heart is a red parrot, perched
      among strange, dark trees, flapping and screaming.

—Mary Oliver

From Five Points
Volume 6, No.3 2002

Copyright Mary Oliver.
All rights reserved.

Reprinted by permission of Five Points. Copyright 2002 by Mary Oliver. For further permissions information, contact Mary Oliver c/o Five Points, MSC8R0318, Georgia State University, 33 Gilmer St. S.E., Unit 8, Atlanta, GA 30303.

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.