Open the Door

Such Singing in the Wild Branches 

It was spring
and finally I heard him
among the first leaves—
then I saw him clutching the limb

in an island of shade
with his red-brown feathers
all trim and neat for the new year.
First, I stood still

and thought of nothing.
Then I began to listen.
Then I was filled with gladness—
and that’s when it happened,

when I seemed to float,
to be, myself, a wing or a tree—
and I began to understand
what the bird was saying,

and the sands in the glass
for a pure white moment
while gravity sprinkled upward

like rain, rising,
and in fact
it became difficult to tell just what it was that was singing—
it was the thrush for sure, but it seemed

not a single thrush, but himself, and all his brothers,
and also the trees around them,
as well as the gliding, long-tailed clouds
in the perfectly blue sky— all, all of them

were singing.
And, of course, yes, so it seemed,
so was I.
Such soft and solemn and perfect music doesn’t last

for more than a few moments.
It’s one of those magical places wise people
like to talk about.
One of the things they say about it, that is true,

is that, once you’ve been there,
you’re there forever.
Listen, everyone has a chance.
Is it spring, is it morning?

Are there trees near you,
and does your own soul need comforting?
Quick, then— open the door and fly on your heavy feet; the song
may already be drifting away.

— Mary Oliver, “Such Singing in the Wild Branches”


2 thoughts on “Open the Door

  1. Kristina Trudell

    ILOVE MARY OLIVER!!! Last year she came to Seattle University for a reading followed by a question and answer period. One of the best things I’ve ever done. When she read The Journey and Wild Geese everyone was crying quietly. She travels with a very nice young man who grew up next door to her on the Cape. He screened her questions and read them to her to answer. I felt so privileged to have had the opportunity to see and hear her for free. The same day I also heard Ruth Gendler and Katie Kendrick. David Whyte was there too but I missed him trying to be first in line for Mary.

    Hope you are well.


    Sent from my iPhone

    • studiolightblue

      Me too!! And how wonderful that you were able to do that!
      Do you ever read them out loud? Her words are so soothing to me.


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