A Poetic Look at Transition

In keeping with the “transitions” theme for March, I turned to my favorite poet, Mary Oliver. “Herons In Winter In the Frozen Marsh” elicits a sense of courage and stoicism, with a bit of ambiguity about the herons’ survival, while ending with a message of hope.

I am so moved by this poem because it eloquently describes the courage that many of my Healing Touch and shamanic healing clients possess as they transition from hardship into new growth and healing.

Read on and please respond! I’d love to hear how this poem touches your heart.

HERONS IN WINTER IN THE FROZEN MARSH

by Mary Oliver

All winter
two blue herons
hunkered in the frozen marsh,
like two columns of blue smoke.

What they ate
I can’t imagine,
unless it was the small laces
of snow that settled

in the ruckus of the cattails,
or the glazed windows of ice
under the tired
pitchforks of their feet—

so the answer is
they ate nothing,
and nothing good could come of that.
They were mired in nature, and starving.

Still, every morning
they shrugged the rime from their shoulders,
and all day they
stood to attention

in the stubbled desolation.
I was filled with admiration,
sympathy,
and, of course, empathy.

It called for a miracle.
Finally the marsh softened,
and their wings cranked open
revealing the old blue light,

so that I thought: how could this possibly be
the blunt, dark finish?
First one, then the other, vanished
into the ditches and upheavals.

All spring, I watched the rising blue-green grass,
above its gleaming and substantial shadows,
toss in the breeze,
like wings.