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The milkweed now with their many pods are standing
like a country of dry women.
The wind lifts their flat leaves and drops them.
This is not kind, but they retain a certain crisp glamour;
moreover, it’s easy to believe
each one was once young and delicate, also
frightened; also capable
of a certain amount of rough joy.
I wish you would walk with me out into the world.
I wish you could see what has to happen, how
each one crackles like a blessing
over its thin children as they rush away.


Mary Oliver, well-known and well-loved American poet of the world of nature and of the human spirit’s witness and wonder in its midst.  Among awards received are the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award and a Lannan Literary Award.  This poem appears in Oliver’s 1986 collection, Dream Work.