Poetry Corner

Poetry Corner May 21, 2012


Sweet Jesus, talking

   his melancholy madness,

     stood up in the boat

       and the sea lay down,

silky and sorry.

   So everybody was saved

      that night.

         But you know how it is

when something

    different crosses

       the threshold — the uncles

          mutter together,

the women walk away,

   the young brother begins

      to sharpen his knife.

         Nobody knows what the soul is.

It comes and goes

   like the wind over the water —

      sometimes, for days,

        you don’t think of it.

 Maybe, after the sermon,

   after the multitude was fed,

     one or two of them felt

       the soul slip forthlike a tremor of pure sunlight

   before exhaustion,

      that wants to swallow everything,

         gripped their bones and left them

miserable and sleepy,

    as they are now, forgetting

       how the wind tore at the sails

          before he rose and talked to it —

tender and luminous and demanding

   as he always was —

      a thousand times more frightening

         than the killer storm.

                                 —Mary Oliver

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