“Lead” by Mary Oliver

Here is a story
to break your heart.
Are you willing?
This winter
the loons came to our harbor
and died, one by one,
of nothing we could see.
A friend told me
of one on the shore
that lifted its head and opened
the elegant beak and cried out
in the long, sweet savoring of its life
which, if you have heard it,
you know is a sacred thing.,
and for which, if you have not heard it,
you had better hurry to where
they still sing.
And, believe me, tell no one
just where that is.
The next morning
this loon, speckled
and iridescent and with a plan
to fly home
to some hidden lake,
was dead on the shore.
I tell you this
to break your heart,
by which I mean only
that it break open and never close again
to the rest of the world.


Mary Oliver, (New and Selected Poems Volume Two), Beacon Press.


3 thoughts on ““Lead” by Mary Oliver

  1. alisonmcghee

    What a beautiful poem, and I’d never read it before. Thank you for always sharing poems that go straight to my heart. ❤


  2. Brian Dean Powers

    The idea of opening one’s heart reminded me of this song, as interpreted into American Sign Language. The sign they use for love shows the opening of the heart and extending it outward.


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