Mary Oliver





The Lilies Break Open Over the Dark Water

Inside     
   that mud-hive, that gas-sponge,         
      that reeking             
           leaf-yard, that rippling

dream-bowl, the leeches'     
   flecked and swirling         
      broth of life, as rich             
         as Babylon,

the fists crack     
   open and the wands         
      of the lilies             
        quicken, they rise

like pale poles     
   with their wrapped beaks of lace;         
      one day             
        they tear the surface,

the next they break open     
   over the dark water.         
      And there you are             
        on the shore,

fitful and thoughtful, trying     
   to attach them to an idea -         
      some news of your own life.             
        But the lilies

are slippery and wild”they are     
   devoid of meaning, they are         
      simply doing,             
        from the deepest

spurs of their being,     
   what they are impelled to do         
      every summer.             
        And so, dear sorrow, are you.




spoken = Susannah Wood