Mary Oliver

The Journey


One day you finally knew
what you had to do,
and began,

though the voices around you
kept shouting their bad advice

–though the whole house began to tremble
and you felt the old tug at your ankles.

“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.

But you didn’t stop.

You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,

though their melancholy was terrible.

It was already late enough,
and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen branches and stones.

But little by little,
as you left their voice behind,
the stars began
to burn through the sheets of clouds,

and there was a new voice
which you slowly recognized
as your own,
that kept you company

as you strode deeper and deeper into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do

–determined to save

the only life that you could save.

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