Mary Oliver

Snow Geese

Oh, to love what is lovely, and will not last!
        What a task 
           to ask

of anything, or anyone,

yet, it is ours,
    and not by the century or the year, but by the hours.

One fall day I heard
   above me, and above the sting of wind, a sound
I did not know, and my look shot upward; it was

a flock of snow geese, winging it
   faster than the ones we usually see,
and, being the color of snow, catching the sun

so they were, in part at least, golden. I

held my breath
as we do
to stop time
when something wonderful
has touched us

as with a match
which is lit, and bright,
but does not hurt
in the common way,

but delightfully, 
as if delight
were the most serious thing
you ever felt.

The geese
flew on.
I have never 
seen them again.

Maybe someday I will, someday, somewhere.
Maybe I won't.
It doesn't matter. 
What matters 
is that, when I saw them,
I saw them
as through a veil, secretly, joyfully, clearly.

spoken = Susannah Wood