Some Questions You Might Ask



Is the soul solid, like iron?

Or is it tender and breakable, like

the wings of a moth in the beak of the owl?

Who has it, and who doesn’t?

I keep looking around me.

The face of the moose is as sad

as the face of Jesus.

The swan opens her white wings slowly.

In the fall, the black bear carries leaves into the darkness.

One question leads to another.

Does it have a shape?

Like an iceberg?

Like the eye of a hummingbird?

Does it have one lung, like the snake and the scallop?

Why should I have it, and not the anteater

who loves her children?

Why should I have it, and not the camel?

Come to think of it, what about the maple trees?

What about the blue iris?

What about all the little stones, sitting alone in the moonlight?

What about roses, and lemons, and their shining leaves?

What about the grass?

From “House of Light” (Beacon Press: $14.95; 80 pp.). Oliver, winner of the 1984 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, writes about the separation of self from nature. She lives in Provincetown, Mass.


1990, Mary Oliver. Reprinted by permission of publisher.