Brandon Oliver on Mary Oliver’s “Wild Geese”

How Mary Oliver Helped Me
to Breathe Again

Brandon Taylor on the gift that is “Wild Geese”

Yesterday, I was walking along the river, chatting with a friend on the phone, when overhead a flock of geese soared by. It’s a common moment here in Iowa, to be standing somewhere, living one’s life, only to have it interrupted by the sudden intrusion of nature in the form of geese honking. I’ve been in workshop (for an MFA), staring out the window, and have seen the dark formations drifting by the tips of the trees. We are always in the current of nature.

Yesterday, I stood on the bridge as the geese fell into and out of formation, not so much a V as a kind of undulating, writhing line. My friend said, “Are those birds? I can hear them! They must be close!” And I said, “They are right over me! Right over!” They were not close enough to touch, but they were close enough that I could see them individually. I could see the gray feathers of their bellies, and their long, slender necks. I could see them pumping their wings, and I could even see some of the feathers shifting in turbulence. Below, on the cold, gray river, their reflections were glossy and dark. I stood there listening to them, thinking of course of “Wild Geese,” and it made me smile the way it always does when I see the geese out on their runs. Who could fail to marvel at the perfect miracle of flight.

“God,” my friend said. “There are so many of them.”

It was true. It felt like it went on a for a long time, but it was only about a minute, if that. And then the moment was over, and the geese were gone. Read the full story at Lit Hub.

Interested in reading more of Mary Oliver? We recommend her Devotions collection, which can be purchased at Amazon.

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