Sometimes the right poem appears at the right time. This past week I referenced the inspiration of the Heron Foundation, which got me thinking about the avian kind of herons, and at the same time I was pondering the weirdness of spring, how is it light and emergent and yet full of heavy and seemingly impossible things…. change is good! change is hard! To top it all off, my family is celebrating Easter this weekend, a most joyful and most incredible holiday.
…and then in comes Mary Oliver, right on cue.
is the long-necked, long-bodied heron,
always it is a surprise
when her smoke-colored wings
and she turns
from the thick water,
from the black sticks
of the summer pond,
rises into the air
and is gone.
Then, not for the first or the last time,
I take the deep breath
of happiness, and I think
how unlikely it is
that death is a hole in the ground,
that ascension is not possible,
though everything seems so inert, so nailed
back into itself–
the muskrat and his lumpy lodge,
the fallen gate.
And especially it is wonderful
that the summers are long
and the ponds so dark and so many,
and therefore it isn’t a miracle
but the common thing,
this trailing of the long legs in the water,
this opening up of the heavy body
into a new life: see how the sudden
gray-blue sheets of her wings
strive toward the wind; see how the clasp of nothing
takes her in.
Dear Honeybees, as we take in this new season with all its impossibilities, may all of your miracles be common things.
* You are right, this photo is not a heron, it’s a stork! But I like the taking-off-impossibly image. From Sabi Sands, South Africa, 2016.
** You can (and should) read this poem in full context in the volume What Do We Know? — and a terrific interview between Mary Oliver and Krista Tippett can be found at OnBeing.
*** Have you seen our big news?! Honeybee is continuing, but there is just a little time left if you would like to support our work.