Sweet Jesus, talking his melancholy madness
stood up in the boat and the sea lay down,
silky and sorry.
So everybody was saved that night.
But you know how it is when
something different crosses the threshold –
the uncles mutter together,
the women walk away,
the younger brother begins to sharpen his knife.
Nobody knows what the soul is.
It comes and goes like the wind over water –
sometimes, for days, you don’t think of it.
Maybe, after the sermon,
after the multitude was fed,
one or two of them felt the soul slip forth
like a tremor of pure sunlight before exhaustion,
that wants to swallow everything,
gripped their bones and left them miserable and sleepy,
as they are now,
forgetting how the wind tore at the sails
before he rose and talked it to it –
tender and luminous
and demanding as he always was –
a thousand times more frightening than the killer storm.
-Mary Oliver, “Maybe”