Mary Oliver





Her Grave

She would come back, dripping thick water, from the
     green bog. 
She would fall at my feet, she would draw the black skin
from her gums, in a hideous and wonderful smile —
and I would rub my hands over her pricked ears and her 
     cunning elbows,
and I would hug the barrel of her body, amazed at the 
     unassuming perfect arch of her neck.

It took four of us to carry her into the woods. 
We did not think of music,
but anyway, it began to rain
slowly.

Her wolfish, invitational, half-pounce.

Her great and lordly satisfaction at having chased 
     something.

My great and lordly satisfaction at her splash
of happiness as she barged
through the pitch pines swiping my face with her 
wild, slightly mossy tongue.

Does the hummingbird think he himself invented his 
     crimson throat? 
He is wiser than that, I think.

A dog lives fifteen years, if you’re lucky.

Do the cranes crying out in the high clouds 
think it is all their own music?

A dog comes to you and lives with you in your own house, 
     but you 
do not therefore own her, as you do not own the rain, or the
trees, or the laws which pertain to them.

Does the bear wandering in the autumn up the side of 
    the hill
think all by herself she has imagined the refuge and the 
    refreshment 
of her long slumber?

A dog can never tell you what she knows from the
smells of the world, but you know, watching her, 
    that you know 
almost nothing.

Does the water snake with his backbone of diamonds think
the black tunnel on the bank of the pond is a palace 
of his own making?

She roved ahead of me through the fields, yet would come 
     back, 
or wait for me, or be somewhere.

Now she is buried under the pines.

Nor will I argue it, or pray for anything but modesty, and 
not to be angry.

Through the trees there is the sound of the wind, 
     palavering.

The smell of the pine needles, what is it but a taste 
of the infallible energies?

How strong was her dark body!
How apt is her grave place.

How beautiful is her unshakable sleep.


Finally,
the slick mountains of love break 
over us.