the air finding every leaf and feather over forest and water


Next time what I’d do is look at
the earth before saying anything. I’d stop
just before going into a house
and be an emperor for a minute
and listen better to the wind
or to the air being still.

When anyone talked to me, whether
blame or praise or just passing time,
I’d watch the face, how the mouth
has to work, and see any strain, any
sign of what lifted the voice.

And for all, I’d know more – the earth
bracing itself and soaring, the air
finding every leaf and feather over
forest and water, and for every person
the body glowing inside the clothes
like a light.

– Mary Oliver, Next Time

Notes: Poem  – Thank you Whiskey River. Photo – Apal’kin (Ukraine) at Paul Apal’kin Photography.


  1. Mary Oliver at her best (she’s always at her best in my world)…one pause before responding or reacting to anyone or anything – to ‘see’ before anything else. Yes. Yes. Yes.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Divine wisdom! 🙏🏻

    Liked by 2 people

  3. “Next time” starts now.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Love Mary O. …and you picked a great photo for this piece. 💖

    Liked by 1 person

  5. roseanne333 says:

    How can we not love her? Just beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I interviewed a communication professor for a story last week, and he said that effective listen is critical, but an incredibly difficult skill to cultivate. Seeing someone, really seeing, and then actively listening to what is being said…two of the greatest gifts one can offer, I would argue. Together, for me, the equal an act of love….

    Liked by 3 people

  7. this moment is the beginning of your second chance to do so.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Our lives are often lived in such a rush that we miss much of it. Mary Oliver has a lovely way of saying, “Take time to smell the roses.”

    Liked by 1 person

  9. And just for a moment I stopped and joined you in the scared pause that is always available to us, yet readily forgotten.
    Love this share … and the comments David!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Additional wisdom on listening:
    “Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.” James 1:19

    “We have two ears and only one tongue in order that we may hear more and speak less.” Diogenes Lucretius

    If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame Proverbs 18:13

    A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion. Proverbs 18:2

    “Poor listening diminishes another person, while good listening invites them to exist and matter.” don;t know who to credit

    “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” Leo Buscaglia

    “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”
    ― Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

    “When you look at the past without God’s eyes, you subject yourself to deception. The past no longer exists and God doesn’t linger there. However, Satan will show you whatever you want to see and believe, so you will be trapped in an emotion that cannot communicate truth, beyond what you want to remember.” Shannon L. Alder

    “Spend your leisure time in cultivating an ear attentive to discourse, for in this way you will find that you learn with ease what others have found out with difficulty.” Isocrates

    “Listen with curiosity. Speak with honesty. Act with integrity.” Roy Bennett “The Light in the Heart”

    “You’re short on ears and long on mouth.”John Wayne

    “Being heard
    is so close to being loved
    that for the average person,
    they are almost indistinguishable.”
    David Augsburger

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Mary Oliver, in gifting us with her poem, “Next Time” I think wants us to know that we still have the choice to evolve through the respect and love of being intimate enough to really listen…///
    “and for every person the body glowing inside the clothes like a light.” I don’t think she means a soft glowing amber light…but a bright light… for me I think of what it must be like to God when He looks upon the face of this earth and see those that shine his light… “You may become blameless and pure children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation (world) ***”so then you will shine among them like stars in the sky.”*** Philippians 2:15 ( “when we live good lives that are evidence of God’s work in us, we stand out as beautiful beacons of hope in a broken world” a quote of a paraphrase about Paul’s letter to the Philippians)

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I also thought of those bright, glorious flickers from the fire flies or lightening bugs that grace the vegetation along the narrow river that flows in front of the old, one room log cabin, I love, in Montana…If I was there today I would be “extra” Joyful because I wouldn’t be alone…He is at work today and tomorrow…reading on the garden bed with the pup and one of the cats for company is great, as it is a beautiful, summer day the sky is lightly, studded with spectacular, enormous white puffy clouds. It is so quiet that the sound of a light plane gave me an upward, diversion…grateful for the gift of quiet peace and relaxation, under the summer sun…

    Liked by 1 person

  13. The image: allow life to illuminate…soak it in, always and then shine it forth…

    Liked by 1 person

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