by Mary Oliver
I looked up and there it was
among the green branches of the pitchpines--
a ruffle of fire trailing over the shoulders and down the back--
color of copper, iron, bronze--
lighting up the dark branches of the pine.
What misery to be afraid of death.
What wretchedness, to believe only in what can be proven.
When I made a little sound
it looked at me, then it looked past me.
Then it rose, the wings enormous and opulent,
and, as I said, wreathed in fire.
Yesterday my husband read this poem or I did. We take turns reading a poem aloud each the morning.
He guessed that the thick bird may have been a golden eagle. For Oliver, that is not important rather it is the detailed observation that catches her attention and takes her away from the world to our common fear of death just as the bird's wings take it away from her study of it.
That the enormous, opulent wings wreathed in fire could and did lift that bird, may tell us that God can and will lift us, as we move out of this world.
I sensed that God's love needs to hold or is not love at all.