It was Earth Day, and a huge wave of dense white mist was rolling in from the sea again. Soon it would cover everything, and both land and sea would be obscured. Algy perched at the edge of the dunes, watching the mist approach, and wondering whether human beings would manage to avoid destroying their own home. Their ways bewildered him; all he could do was hope for the best, because he rather liked the Earth himself. As he felt the first cold droplets of the mist tickle his feathers, he thought of a poem by a particularly talented and thoughtful human, Mary Oliver:

    a black bear
      has just risen from sleep
         and is staring

down the mountain.
    All night
      in the brisk and shallow restlessness
         of early spring

I think of her,
    her four black fists
      flicking the gravel,
         her tongue

like a red fire
    touching the grass,
      the cold water.
         There is only one question:

how to love this world.
    I think of her
         like a black and leafy ledge

to sharpen her claws against
    the silence
      of the trees.
         Whatever else

my life is
    with its poems
      and its music
         and its glass cities,

it is also this dazzling darkness
      down the mountain,
         breathing and tasting;

all day I think of her—
    her white teeth,
      her wordlessness,
         her perfect love.

[Algy is quoting the poem Spring from the collection House of Light by the contemporary American poet Mary Oliver.]


The wind was driving the wet, sleety snow into his feathers with some force, so Algy quickly decided to move to a less exposed and better-drained spot, away from the open moor. He found a good, solid clump of heather on a bank of mossy grass, and tucked himself down on the lee side, with his back pressed tightly against the bush. Just a wee bit of shelter makes all the difference in such conditions, so Algy felt almost comfortable, once he had settled down out of the wind. As he watched the snow whizzing past, he was reminded of a lovely snow poem by Mary Oliver:

          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.

[Algy is quoting the poem White-Eyes by the contemporary American poet Mary Oliver.