“In Blackwater Woods” by Mary Oliver

Look, the trees
are turning
their own bodies
into pillars

of light,
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
and fulfillment,

the long tapers
of cattails
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders

of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is

nameless now.
Every year
I have ever learned

in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side

is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.

“In Blackwater Woods” by Mary Oliver, from American Primitive. © Back Bay Books, 1983.

3 thoughts on ““In Blackwater Woods” by Mary Oliver

    1. I’ve always thought contentment smelled of fresh baked sugar cookies and vanilla; maybe fulfillment smells of cinnamon?

      I do love Mary. Such simple awareness of beauty. Poetry doesn’t have to hurt your brain.



      1. No wonder I love her…I can actually understand her 🙂
        Soooo many times I read poetry’s and think ahhhh….what pretty words. Wish I knew what they meant 🙂
        Hope you are having a great weekend 😘


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