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 these
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 wooly.
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 liquify 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: from Twelve Moons: 1979
found in New and Selected Poems, Volume One Beacon Press, 1992