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The Best Poem Of Bob Bowers

Mary Oliver, Poet

She asks me, in The Swan,
Whether I have figured out what beauty is for
Whether I have changed my life,
This Mary Oliver,
This woman I do not even know.

Where does she get off
Probing me like this
Seeking of me something more
Seeking of me depth of soul
Seeking of me careful thought.

One swan
Lifting off from the cool bed
In which she floated the night away
Becomes beauty incarnate
Drips diamonds from her flight
Melts into the day’s calling sun
Like Icarus clothed in his father’s wings
So long ago,
But this time, this one time,
This one swan
Does not fall to earth
This one swan continues on
Until her beauty is but a memory.

Did you, Mary?
Did you figure out what beauty is for?
Did you see that beauty is memory
Before it’s forgotten
Before it fades
Before it melts and falls into the sea?

And did you change your memories
Today
The ones that make life new?
And did your swan come home?


3/17/2004

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