Little Sister Pond

In the early morning: a blaze of noise
among the trees — a wood duck
somewhere in the forest calling
her hatchlings down
from the warm cave in the tree
they were born in.

Later, someone I love sees them gathered
by the water, small
and full of a whirring music they
tumble in, they swim their first fast circles
on the black water.

A blue damselfly —
climbing up out of the wet cities —
streaks across the water, hesitates
in the villages of the reeds, then
settles on my arm.

It is lovely, it has
bright eyes, the wings
don’t seem heavy.
Apparently it breathes, for the chest —
if you can call it that —
moves in a quick rhythm.

When our eyes meet
I do not know what to say.

All day I turn the pages of two or three good books
that cost plenty to set down
and even more to live by

and all day I turn over my own best thoughts,
each one
as heavy and slow to flow
as a stone in a field full of wet and tossing flowers.

Even in the room, though,
I feel the sun’s tenderness on my neck
and shoulders, and think

if I turn
someone will be standing there
with a body
like water.

In the evening
I tell how the wood hen called the chicks down
in a waterfall of crying, meanwhile
touching, feeling

and you tell
how they huddled at the water’s edge and then
tumbled in whirring and learning, meanwhile
touching, feeling
pretty good

And somewhere the blue damselfly
sleeps in the reeds
it flew back to when it left my wrist,
its tiny lungs
inhaling, exhaling, its eyes
staring east where the summer moon
is rising,
brushing over the dark pond,
for all of us, the white flower
of dreams.

— Mary Oliver
American Primitive