I Don't Know The Name Of This Bird


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.

I read this poem and imagine this Spirit-Bird wrestling with its ideas in the tops of the trees manifesting as the brilliant winter storms we sometimes experience in winter. I think of this Spirit-Bird as something large and definitive, a creator or director, or maybe simply a grand observer who puffs and blows the turbulence we all sense in the storms of the sky, yes, but also the storms of our lives. I imagine this Spirit-Bird as blustery at times, yes, but also as a being who ultimately touches me with Divine love, a real touch, by sending gentle, delicate, and cold kisses floating through the air in the form of snowflakes, landing silently on my face and shoulders and eyes. Like Mary Oliver says, "I don't know the name of this bird," but I can feel it whatever it is. Sometimes, it stops me in my tracks along this tempestuous journey of life, ankle-deep in dark and cold, my brow furrowed and mind brimming with business, and lifts my gaze for a moment to watch its dazzling spectacle of fat, silent flakes filter through the streetlight or moonlight. The beauty of it all!

"I don't know the name of this bird," but I can feel its breath move through me in yoga. It makes my body move and sway, undulate and reach. It arrests my busy mind and opens my eyes.

Come and practice yoga and enjoy the warmth of the studio while inside, the Spirit-Bird, or whatever name you give it, slowly unfolds its ideas and gives you divine kisses through breath and movement, and outside, it does the same in the form of snow or rain or cold, anything, but nevertheless touches everything around you.