Snow Geese by Mary Oliver


Oh, to love what is lovely, and will not last!
    What a task
      to ask

of anything, or anyone,

yet it is ours,
    and not by the century or the year, but by the hours.

One fall day I heard
  above me, and above the sting of the wind, a sound
I did not know, and my look shot upward; it was

a flock of snow geese, winging it
    faster than the ones we usually see,
and, being the color of snow, catching the sun

so they were, in part at least, golden. I

held my breath
as we do
sometimes
to stop time
when something wonderful
has touched us

as with a match
which is lit, and bright, 
but does not hurt
in the common way,
but delightfully,
as if delight
were the most serious thing
you ever felt.

The geese
flew on.
I have never 
seen them again,

Maybe I will, someday, somewhere.
Maybe I won't.
It doesn't matter.
What matters
is that, when I saw them,
I saw them
as through the veil, secretly, joyfully, clearly.