“Reckless Poem” by Mary Oliver
Poetry 180: A Poem a Day for American High Schools, Hosted by Billy Collins, U.S. Poet Laureate, 2001-2003
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 somewhere 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.
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.
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.