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White-Eyes

BY MARY OLIVER

In winter 
    all the singing is in 
         the tops of the trees 
             where the wind-bird 
 
with its white eyes 
    shoves and pushes 
         among the branches. 
             Like any of us 
 
    but he’s restless— 
         he has an idea, 
             and slowly it unfolds 
 
from under his beating wings 
    as long as he stays awake. 
         But his big, round music, after all, 
             is too breathy to last. 
 
So, it’s over. 
    In the pine-crown 
         he makes his nest, 
             he’s done all he can. 
 
I don’t know the name of this bird, 
    I only imagine his glittering beak 
         tucked in a white wing 
             while the clouds— 
 
which he has summoned 
    from the north— 
         which he has taught 
             to be mild, and silent— 
 
thicken, and begin to fall 
    into the world below 
         like stars, or the feathers 
               of some unimaginable bird 
 
that loves us, 
         that has turned itself 
             into snow.
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