American Literature · Classic · Collection · Contemporary · Inspirational · Motivational · Poetry · Spirituality

Mary Oliver

The Moths

There’s a kind of white moth, I don’t know
what kind, that glimmers
by mid-May
in the forest, just
as the pink mocassin flowers
are rising.

If you notice anything,
it leads you to notice
more
and more.

And anyway
I was so full of energy.
I was always running around, looking
at this and that.

If I stopped
the pain
was unbearable.

If I stopped and thought, maybe
the world
can’t be saved,
the pain
was unbearable.

Finally, I noticed enough.
All around me in the forest
the white moths floated.

How long do they live, fluttering
in and out of the shadows?

You aren’t much, I said
one day to my reflection
in a green pond,
and grinned.

The wings of the moths catch the sunlight
and burn
so brightly.

At night, sometimes,
they slip between the pink lobes
of the moccasin flowers and lie there until dawn,
motionless
in those dark halls of honey.

Mary Oliver, Dream Work. (The Atlantic Monthly Press May 1986)

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