beauty is my work

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Drea Art
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The Osprey
by Mary Oliver

This morning
an osprey
with its narrow
black-and-white face

and its cupidinous eyes
leaned down
from a leafy tree
to look into the lake – it looked

a long time, then its powerful
shoulders punched out a little
and it fell,
it rippled down

into the water –
then it rose, carrying,
in the clips of its feet,
a slim and limber

silver fish, a scrim
of red rubies
on its flashing sides.
All of this

was wonderful
to look at,
so I simply stood there,
in the blue morning,

looking.
Then I walked away.
Beauty is my work,
but not my only work –

later,
when the fish was gone forever
and the bird was miles away,
I came back

and stood on the shore, thinking –
and if you think
thinking is a mild exercise,
beware!

I mean, I was swimming for my life –
and I was thundering this way and that way
in my shirt of feathers –
and I could not resolve anything long enough

to become one thing
except this: the imaginer.
It was inescapable
as over and over it flung me,

without pause or mercy it flung me
to both sides of the beautiful water –
to both sides
of the knife.

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