Shadows by Mary Oliver, in honour of the Winter Solstice

  • AuthorStacey Shelby
  • Date 17 December 2014
  • CategoryPsychology


Everyone knows the great energies running amok cast

terrible shadows, that each of the so-called

senseless acts has its thread looping

back through the world and into a human heart.

And meanwhile

the gold-trimmed thunder

wanders the sky; the river

may be filling the cellars of the sleeping town.

Cyclone, fire, and their merry cousins

bring us to grief – but these are the hours

with the old wooden-god faces;

we lift them to our shoulders like so many

black coffins, we continue walking

into the future. I don’t mean

there are no bodies in the river,

or bones broken by the wind. I mean

everyone who has heard the lethal train-roar

of the tornado swears there was no mention ever

of any person, or reason – I mean

the waters rise without any plot upon

history, or even geography. Whatever

power of the earth rampages, we turn to it

dazed but anonymous eyes; whatever

the name of the catastrophe, it is never

the opposite of love.

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