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A Poem for Saturday Evening

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Night and the River
By Mary Oliver

 

I have seen the great feet

leaping

into the river

 

and I have seen moonlight

milky

along the long muzzle

 

and I have seen the body

of something

scaled and wonderful

 

slumped in the sudden fire of its mouth,

and I could not tell

which fit me

 

more comfortably, the power,

or the powerlessness;

neither would have me

 

entirely; I was divided,

consumed,

by sympathy,

 

pity, admiration.

After a while

it was done,

 

the fish had vanished, the bear

lumped away

to the green shore

 

and into the trees. And then there was only

this story.

It followed me home

 

and entered my house —

a difficult guest

with a single tune

 

which it hums all day and through the night—

slowly or briskly,

it doesn’t matter,

 

it sounds like a river leaping and falling;

it sounds like a body

falling apart.

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