'Before whatever happens'

By Mary Oliver

It’s not my track,
I say, seeing
the ball of the foot and the wide heel
and the naily, untrimmed
toes. And I say again,
for emphasis,

to no one but myself, since no one is
with me. This is
not my track, and this is an extremely
large foot, I wonder
how large a body must be to make
such a track, I am beginning to make

bad jokes. I have read probably
A hundred narratives where someone saw
just what I am seeing. Various things
happened next. A fairly long list, I won’t

go into it. But not one of them told
what happened next—I mean, before whatever happens—

how the distances light up, how the clouds
are the most lovely shapes you have ever seen, how

the wild flowers at your feet begin distilling a fragrance
different, and sweeter than any you ever stood upon—how

every leaf on the whole mountain is aflutter.

Image by Stuck in Customs


Erin Davis said…
I haven't read Mary Oliver in a while, but I love her. Thanks!
Mimi said…
Good to see you back.
And those Mary Oliver words....just beautiful. Wow!
steven said…
the image is arresting as are the images in mary's writing here. thankyou for sharing them both. steven
Joanna said…
The light in that photograph is so lovely, lighting up those blue lupine flowers. It's a perfect accompaniment to this poem. Isn't she something!
ellen abbott said…
that exquisite moment when we see clearly.
Barb said…
My old friend, Mary Oliver (tho I haven't read this particular poem before). She was recently interviewed in O magazine and also was featured in an article in the NYTimes.
Gaston Studio said…
The image and words are just beautiful Kathleen, just beautiful.
Tess Kincaid said…
I love this.

Have you seen her interview with Maria Shriver?

Erin Davis said…
Oh, I do love Mary Oliver. Thank you, Kathleen!

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