Clouds fall like feathers.

The whole nation has been colder than usual, I hear. I’m glad to live where it doesn’t normally snow, as I feel too old to deal with the work it requires. Still, I have experienced some snowfalls from time to time in my life and I appreciate the imagery in this poem.


In winter
all the singing is in
the tops of the trees
where the wind-bird

with its white eyes
shoves and pushes
among the branches.
Like any of us

he wants to go to sleep,
but he’s restless—
he has an idea,
and slowly it unfolds

from under his beating wings
as long as he stays awake.
But his big, round music, after all,
is too breathy to last.

So, it’s over.
In the pine-crown
he makes his nest,
he’s done all he can.

I don’t know the name of this bird,
I only imagine his glittering beak
tucked in a white wing
while the clouds—

which he has summoned
from the north—
which he has taught
to be mild, and silent—

thicken, and begin to fall
into the world below
like stars, or the feathers
of some unimaginable bird

that loves us,
that is asleep now, and silent—
that has turned itself
into snow.

–Mary Oliver

Source: Poetry (October 2002), and the Poetry Foundation’s collection of Winter Poems.


7 thoughts on “Clouds fall like feathers.

  1. What kind of weather do you have? Sweet poem, we were just thinking of the birds and plan to get bird seed for them. We currently have about 5 inches of snow and have had temperatures about high of 29 this whole week (last night it got down to 5'F)! This is the best snowfall we've had in years in southern Ohio. ♥ Last year and the year before we had one or 2 snowfalls with a few inches.


  2. what a beautiful poem!! we get lot's of snow at the jersey shore. number three for this season, is coming tomorrow!!

    it's been cold here but i love all the different seasons!!


  3. Oh GJ, what a bounty of poems you are giving us these Advent days! Thank so you much. I need to read more of this kind of thing. I need to attempt to write poems too, but I can only do so when my mind is relaxed and loose and well-massaged. Not these days. Thanks again, friend.


Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.