The Gift

by Mary Oliver


Original Language English

After the wind-bruised sea
furrowed itself back
into the folds of blue, I found
in the black wrack

a shell called the Neptune --
tawny and white,
spherical,
with a tail

and a tower
and a dark door,
and all of it
no larger

than my fist.
It looked, you might say,
very expensive.
I thought of its travels

in the Atlantic's
wind-pounded bowl
and wondered
that it was still intact.

Ah yes, there was
that door
that held only the eventual, inevitable
emptiness.

There's that -- there's always that.
Still, what a house
to leave behind!
I held it

like the wisest of books
and imagined
its travels toward my hand.
And now, your hand.

-- from The Truro Bear and Other Adventures: Poems and Essays, by Mary Oliver

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The Gift