Fall and Mary Oliver today. From a wonderful collection of poetry titled Why I Wake Early. Admittedly, waking early isn’t in my vocabulary, save for the demand my job puts upon me as a high school English teacher. But for sights such as these, I would race the sun out of bed, “[t]o love what is lovely, and will not last!” Reading this poem tonight reminded me that very few people truly stop to see things these days. May this poem be the balm for all our screen-seared eyes (ironically, that you read on a screen) and a cure for the crippling disease of busyness.
Snow Geese by Mary Oliver
Oh, to love what is lovely, and will not last! What a task to ask of anything, or anyone, yet it is ours, and not by the century or the year, but by the hours. One fall day I heard above me, and above the sting of the wind, a sound I did not know, and my look shot upward; it was a flock of snow geese, winging it faster than the ones we usually see, and, being the color of snow, catching the sun so they were, in part at least, golden. I held my breath as we do sometimes to stop time when something wonderful has touched us as with a match, which is lit, and bright, but does not hurt in the common way, but delightfully, as if delight were the most serious thing you ever felt. The geese flew on, I have never seen them again. Maybe I will, someday, somewhere. Maybe I won't. It doesn't matter. What matters is that, when I saw them, I saw them as through the veil, secretly, joyfully, clearly.
From Why I Wake Early: New Poems by Mary Oliver, published by Beacon Press, Boston, 2004: pgs. 34-35.