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Clouds bunch up and boil down

Cold now.

Close to the edge. Almost

unbearable. Clouds

bunch up and boil down

from the north of the white bear.

This tree-splitting morning

I dream of his fat tracks,

the lifesaving suet.

 

I think of summer with its luminous fruit,

blossoms rounding to berries, leaves,

handfuls of grain.

 

Maybe what cold is, is the time

we measure the love we have always had, secretly,

for our own bones, the hard knife-edged love

for the warm river of the I, beyond all else; maybe

 

that is what it means the beauty

of the blue shark cruising toward the tumbling seals.

 

In the season of snow,

in the immeasurable cold,

we grow cruel but honest; we keep

ourselves alive,

if we can, taking one after another

the necessary bodies of others, the many

crushed red flowers.

 

~Mary Oliver

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Taken on January 17, 2009