The white stones were mountains, then they went traveling.
The pink stones also were part of a mountain before
the glacier’s tongue gathered them up.
Now they lie resting under the waves.
The green stones are lovelier than the blue stones, I thought for a little while,
then I changed my mind.
Stones born of the sediments tell what ooze floated down the outwash once.
Stones born of the fire have red stars inside their bodies, and seams of white quartz.
Also I admire the heft, and the circularities
as they lie without wrist or ankles just under the water.
Also I imagine how they lie quietly all night
under the moon and whatever passes overhead–say, the floating lily of the night-heron.
It is apparent also how they lie relaxed under the sun’s golden ladders.
Each one is a slow-wheeler.
Each one is a tiny church, locked up tight.
Each one is perfect–but none of them is ready quite yet
to come to the garden, to raise corn
or the bulb of the iris.
If I lived inland I would want to take one or two home with me
just to look at in that long life of dust and grass,
but I hope I wouldn’t.
I hope I wouldn’t take even one like a see from the sunflower’s face,
like and ant’s white egg from the warm nursery under the hill.
I hope I would leave them, in the perfect balance of things,
in the clear body of the sea.
— Mary Oliver


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