A poem

Project friend & freshwater ecologist Shannon McCauley shared this poem by Mary Oliver with me last year.

Trout Lilies
by Mary Oliver
(from Why I Wake Early, Beacon Press, 2004)

It happened I couldn’t find in all my books
more than a picture and a few words concerning
the trout lily,

so I shut my eyes,
And let the darkness come in
and roll me back.
The old creek

began to sing in my ears
as it rolled along, like the hair of spring,
and the young girl I used to be
heard it also,

as she came swinging into the woods,
truant from everything as usual
except the clear globe of the day, and its
beautiful details.

Then she stopped,
where the first trout lilies of the year
had sprung from the ground
with their spotted bodies
and their six-antlered bright faces,
and their many red tongues.

If she spoke to them, I don’t remember what she said,
and if they kindly answered, it’s a gift that can’t be broken
by giving it away.
All I know is, there was a light that lingered, for hours,
under her eyelids – that made a difference
when she went back to a difficult house, at the end of the day.

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