Staying Close to the Hearth

11 March 2017

When weather drives
the rower indoors,
open a book, and let
the turning pages be
the river you row,
perhaps the river
of Mary Oliver’s poems,
where you will pass
many-hued hummingbirds
hovering near resplendent
goldenrods, amidst which
stand herons, royal-robed,
and snow queen egrets
with their dagger beaks.
Hawks will not hesitate
to feast on winter-plump rodents,
nor owls haunt woods crowded
with cadaverous trees.

Are her words not
like rainbow
arcing trout?
(Iris knows.);
like driftwood, brought bearded
from the ocean, as though
embodied thoughts of sea gods?
Of course, the rigor-stiff
carcass of some fish
will be iridescent in death,
picked to the ribs
by some ravenous raptor.
Iridescence, you question?
The sun-spangled seaspray
clinging to the remains.

Row, then, Ms. Oliver’s poems.
On the river of your mind, they will
oar the rare course they are.

Philip Kuepper
(25 February 2017)

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