Wednesday, November 10, 2010


All the while
I was teaching
in the state of Virginia
I wanted to see
gray fox.
Finally I found him.
He was in the highway.
He was singing
His death song.
I picked him up
And carried him
Into a field
While the cars kept coming.
He showed me
How he could ripple
How he could bleed.
Goodbye I said
To the light of his eye
As the cars went by.
Two mornings later
I found the other.
She was in the highway.
She was singing
Her death song.
I picked her up
And carried her
Into the field
Where she rippled
Half of her gray
Half of her red
While the cars kept coming.
While the cars kept coming.
Gray fox and gray fox.
Red, red, red.

Once, when I was a teen I was in the car with my father when across the road flew two flickers in front of the car ahead of us.  One made it across safely, the other not.  The injuring car kept going. My father stopped. Wordless we went to the side of the road to see what might be done for the stricken bird.  There was the male, quite dead, and so amazingly beautiful in his stillness. Over his body was his mate, uninjured, unmoving - protecting?  Saying goodbye?  I didn’t know what we could do for either bird, so I looked to my father who had tears falling down his face.  While the three of us stood vigil, the cars kept going by, the drivers unaware of the beauty and tragedy they were passing by.

We are the cars Mary speaks of.  We participate in death, of course, for we are alive and we die and we cannot escape this interdependence that claims us.  Perhaps though there are more songs of death we could hear, could write, and could sing.  I will give this day to hear, write, and sing the songs around me. 

Will you join me?  And then tell me what you songs you partook of?

1 comment:

  1. Although it has been years since you posted this I'd like to say thank you for compiling this collection of Mary Oliver's poetry. I will be reading from it as I have just discovered her and you. There is so much beauty in the earthly struggle that needs to be sung and listened to. All best! Nancy