The White Stuff

122014 017

“Early Snow”

by Mary Oliver

Amazed I looked
out of the window and saw
the early snow coming down casually,
almost drifting, over

the gardens, then the gardens began
to vanish as each white, six-pointed
snowflake lay down without a sound with all
the others. I thought, how incredible

were their numbers. I thought of dried
leaves drifting spate after spate
out of the forests,
the fallen sparrows, the hairs of all our heads

as, still, the snowflakes went on pouring softly through
what had become dusk or anyway flung
a veil over the sun. And I thought
how not one looks like another

though each is exquisite, fanciful, and
falls without argument. It was now nearly
evening. Some crows landed and tried
to walk around then flew off. They were perhaps

laughing in crow talk or anyway so it seemed,
and I might have joined in, there was something
that wonderful and refreshing
about what was by then a confident white blanket

carrying out its cheerful work, covering ruts, softening
the earth’s trials, but at the same time
there was some kind of almost sorrow that fell

over me. It was
the loneliness again. After all
what is Nature, it isn’t
kindness, it isn’t unkindness. And I turned

and opened the door, and still the snow poured down,
smelling of iron and the pale, vast eternal, and
there it was, whether I was ready or not;
the silence; the blank, white, glittering sublime.

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