Castle Rock Institute Blog
Monday, October 24, 2005
Mary Oliver on the Swamp
Back from South Carolina, I thought I would share one of Mary Oliver's fantastic poems. If you don't know her work, let me suggest you dig in. Wonderful stuff.

            Crossing the Swamp
Here is the endless
  wet thick
    cosmos, the center
      of everything—the nugget
of dense sap, branching
  vines, the dark burred
    faintly belching
      bogs. Here
is swamp, here
  is struggle,
      pathless, seamless,
peerless mud. My bones
  knock together at the pale
    joints, trying
      for foothold, fingerhold,
mindhold over
  such slick crossings, deep
    hipholes, hummocks
      that sink silently
into the black, slack
  earthsoup. I feel
    not wet so much as
      painted and glittered
with the fat grassy
  mires, the rich
    and succulent marrows
      of earth— a poor
dry stick given
  one more chance by the whims
    of swamp water— a bough
      that still, after all these years,
could take root,
  sprout, branch out, bud—
    make of its life a breathing
      palace of leaves.

            —from Mary Oliver, New and Selected Poems, Volume One.
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