Assistant to the Director, Estee Schlenner, chose this week’s poem. “In this poem, Mary Oliver recognizes the difficulties of winter, while also helping the reader see how it is a season of reflection, and that can be very special.”
Close to the edge. Almost
bunch up and boil down
from the north of the white bear.
This tree-splitting morning
I dream of his fat tracks,
the lifesaving suet.
I think of summer with its luminous fruit,
blossoms rounding to berries, leaves,
handfuls of grain.
Maybe what cold is, is the time
we measure the love we have always had, secretly,
for our own bones, the hard knife-edged love
for the warm river of the I, beyond all else; maybe
that is what it means, the beauty
of the blue shark cruising toward the tumbling seals.
In the season of snow,
in the immeasurable cold,
we grow cruel but honest; we keep
if we can, taking one after another
the necessary bodies of others, the many
crushed red flowers.
“Cold Poem,” by Mary Oliver, from American Primitive (Little, Brown and Company).