warm darkness

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At Black River
By Mary Oliver

All day
its dark, slick bronze soaks
in a mossy place,
its teeth,

a multitude
set
for the comedy
that never comes–

its tail
knobbed and shiny,
and with a heavyweight’s punch
packed around the bone.

In beautiful Florida
he is king
of his own part
of the black river,

and from his nap
he will wake
into the warm darkness
to boom, and thrust forward,

paralyzing
the swift, thin-waisted fish,
or the bird
in its frilled, white gown,

that has dipped down
from the heaven of leaves
one last time,
to drink.

Don’t think
I’m not afraid.
There is such an unleashing
of horror.

Then I remember:
death comes before
the rolling away
of the stone.

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