and I finally heard him
among the first leaves––
then I saw him clutching the limb
in an island of shade
with his red-brown feathers
all trim and neat for the new year.
First, I stood still
and thought of nothing.
Then I began to listen.
Then I was filled with gladness––
and that’s when it happened,
when I seemed to float,
to be, myself, a wing or a tree––
and I began to understand
what the bird was saying,
and the sands in the glass
for a pure white moment
while gravity sprinkled upward
like rain, rising,
and in fact
it became difficult to tell just what it was that was singing––
it was the thrush for sure, but it seemed
not a single thrush, but himself, and all his brothers,
and also the trees around them,
as well as the gliding, long-tailed clouds
in the perfect blue sky–––all of them
And, of course, so it seemed,
so was I.
Such soft and solemn and perfect music doesn’t last
For more than a few moments.
It’s one of those magical places wise people
like to talk about.
One of the things they say about it, that is true,
is that, once you’ve been there,
you’re there forever.
Listen, everyone has a chance.
Is it spring, is it morning?
Are there trees near you,
and does your own soul need comforting?
Quick, then––open the door and fly on your heavy feet; the song
may already be drifting away.
"Such Singing in the Wild Branches" by Mary Oliver, from Owls and Other Fantasies: Poems and Essays, © Copyright 2003 by Mary Oliver.
• • • • • • • • • • •
Minnesota Wood Thrush - Hylocichla mustelina
In early spring, the fluting eee-o-lay song of the wood thrush resounds throughout the moist woodlands at dawn and dusk. In Minnesota, the bird nests throughout the state, except on the prairie and in the heavy coniferous forests along the Canadian border. It is partial to woodlands with swamps or streams. A heavy-bodied large-eyed bird, the wood thrush is easily recognized by its white eye-ring and light belly marked with black oval spots. A shy denizen of the woods, the bird is usually found alone or in pairs, foraging on the ground or low in trees. It feeds primarily on insects, spiders, and fruits. In Minnesota, the spring migration peaks around mid-May. Typically raising two broods each year, the wood thrush lays 2-5 eggs, which are incubated for 12-14 days. Young remain in the nest for 12 days and may live as long as nine years. It departs for its wintering range in eastern Mexico to Panama between August and October.