The Teachers

Mary Oliver

Owl in the black morning, mockingbird in the burning

slants of the sunny afternoon declare so simply

to the world

everything I have tried but still haven’t been able

to put into words,

so I do not go

far from that school with its star-bright

or blue ceiling,

and I listen to those old teachers, and others too —

the wind in the trees

or the water waves —

for they are what lead me from the dryness of self

where I labor

with the mind-steps of language.

Lonely, as we all are in the singular,

I listen

to the shouted exuberances

of the mockingbird and the owl, the waves, and the wind,

and then, like peace after perfect speech, such stillness.