June 16: “North Wind”

I love you, malcontent
Male wind—
Shaking the pollen from a flower
Or hurling the sea backward from the grinning sand.

Blow on and over my dreams. . .
Scatter my sick dreams. . .
Throw your lusty arms about me. . .
Envelop all my hot body. . .
Carry me to pine forests—
Great, rough-bearded forests. . .
Bring me to stark plains and steppes. . .

I would have the North to-night—
The cold, enduring North.

And if we should meet the Snow,
Whirling in spirals,
And he should blind my eyes. . .

Ally, you will defend me—
You will hold me close,
Blowing on my eyelids.

— Lola Ridge

April 28: “North Country”

In the north country now it is spring and there
is a certain celebration. The thrush
has come home. He is shy and likes the
evening best, also the hour just before
morning; in that blue and gritty light he
climbs to his branch, or smoothly
sails there. It is okay to know only
one song if it is this one. Hear it
rise and fall; the very elements of your soul
shiver nicely. What would spring be
without it? Mostly frogs. But don’t worry, he

arrives, year after year, humble and obedient
and gorgeous. You listen and you know
you could live a better life than you do, be
softer, kinder. And maybe this year you will
be able to do it. Hear how his voice
rises and falls. There is no way to be
sufficiently grateful for the gifts we are
given, no way to speak the Lord’s name
often enough, though we do try, and

especially now, as that dappled breast
breathes in the pines and heaven’s
windows in the north country, now spring has come,
are opened wide.

— Mary Oliver

January 23: “Monday”

Awake, like a hippopotamus with eyes bulged
from the covers, I find Monday, improbable
as chair legs, camped around me, and God’s terrible
searchlight raking down from his pillbox on Mount Hood,
while His mystic hammers reach from the alarm clock
and rain spangles on my head.

Cliff at my back all week I live, afraid
when light comes, because it has deep whirlpools
in it. I cross each day by the shallow part but
have often touched the great hole in the sky
at noon. I close my eyes and let the day
for a while wander where all things will, and then
it settles in a fold of the north.

At the end, in my last sickness, I think I will travel
north, if well-meaning friends will let me– to bush,
to rock, to snow– have nothing by me, fall
on the sky of earth in the north, and let my heart
finally understand that part of the world
I have secretly loved all my life– the rock. But now
I gradually become young, surge from the covers,
and go to work.

— William Stafford