The Night Traveler

“Passing by, he could be anybody:
A thief, a tradesman, a doctor
On his way to a worried house.
But when he stops at your gate,
Under the room where you lie half-asleep,
You know it is not just anyone —
It is the Night Traveler.
You lean your arms on the sill
And stare down. But all you can see
Are bits of wilderness attached to him —
Twigs, loam and leaves,
Vines and blossoms. Among those
You feel his eyes, and his hands
Lifting something in the air.
He has a gift for you, but it has no name.
It is windy and woolly.
He holds it in the moonlight, and it sings
Like a newborn beast,
Like a child at Christmas,
Like your own heart as it tumbles
In love’s green bed.
You take it, and he is gone.
All night — and all your life, if you are willing —
It will nuzzle your face, cold-nosed,
Like a small white wolf;
It will curl in your palm
Like a hard blue stone;
It will liquefy into a cold pool
Which, when you dive into it,
Will hold you like a mossy jaw.
A bath of light. An answer.”
–Mary Oliver, Twelve Moons
I’m not sure how it’s even possible to love a poem so much that I barely understand, but I do…
Pic from last December at the Lakota Wolf Preserve

5 thoughts on “The Night Traveler”

  1. Mary Oliver is such a wonderfully evocative poet. I could easily pick any number of her poems and put them in that “I love this poem” category.

    This is a new one for me–thanks.

  2. I love Mary Oliver. This is such a lovely poem and your photograph is a nice touch.

    My personal favorite Mary Oliver is rather short but very moving:

    “For years and years I struggled
    just to live my life. And then

    the butterfly
    rose, weightless, in the wind.
    “Don’t love your life
    too much,” it said,

    and vanished into the world.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *