an answer.



Passing by, he could be anybody:

A thief, a tradesman, a doctor

On his way to a worried house.

But when he stops at your gate,

Under the room where you lie half-asleep,

You know it is not just anyone—

It is the Night Traveler.

You lean your arms on the sill

And stare down. But all you can see

Are bits of wilderness attached to him—

Twigs, loam and leaves,

Vines and blossoms. Among these

You feel his eyes, and his hands

Lifting something in the air.

He has a gift for you, but it has no name.

It is windy and woolly.

He holds it in the moonlight, and it sings

Like a newborn beast,

Like a child at Christmas,

Like your own heart as it tumbles

In love’s green bed.

You take it, and he is gone.

All night—and all your life, if you are willing—

It will nuzzle your face, cold-nosed,

Like a small white wolf;

It will curl in your palm

Like a hard blue stone;

It will liquefy into a cold pool

Which, when you dive into it,

Will hold you like a mossy jaw.

A bath of light. An answer.



credits: poem from Twelve Moons, 1979 by Mary Oliver, painting – google images

43 responses »

  1. Oh! I should have known that could be no one else but dear, sweet Mary Oliver. She certainly has a way with words that speak beyond any words… 💞
    Thank you for this… I hadn’t come across this one before!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I hate confessing how ‘unwellread’ I am. 😦
    But it is never too late to discover/find new poets to read and enjoy.
    Some poems are meant to be read over and over again. One may never grasp the true meaning a poet intends. But if a poem brings some meaning to your own self, it is worth the keeping.

    I liked her “Wild Geese”.


  3. This puts an entirely different spin on something that happened when I was a young teen. I was working at a family owned fast food store. It was late. Cold. Dark. An older gentleman comes in and sits down. He literally has sticks, every green branches and leaves tied to his old coat. He did not have the traditional shape of ‘man’ because of all that he had tied to himself and all that he carried under and upon that coat. All these years I saw him as an old drifter, I remember him fondly. I hope I treated him well (as I remember him I don’t recall me in the moment). I will still remember him fondly, but now, maybe he was one of these night travelers. He did give me a gift….unopened until I was an adult and would think about him. Surely he is gone now. But not what he left upon me that night.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. New to blogging. Just recently discovered wtitting makes me happy and it’s one of my very few coping skills. I’m just a single momma struggling to win the battle if addiction and learning to put my domestic violence victim history to use help others who think they can’t get out, and proving myself

    Liked by 1 person

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