A Murmuration of Starlings

murmuration balling up to escape a predator

Murmuration:  a flock of hundreds, maybe thousands of starlings ( or other birds) gather together to escape a predator.


Here’s a poem by Mary Oliver:


Starlings in Winter


Chunky and noisy,

but with stars in their black feathers,

they spring from the telephone wire

and instantly

they are acrobats in the freezing wind.

And now, in the theater of air, they swing over buildings,

dipping and rising;

they float like one stippled star

that opens,

becomes for a moment fragmented,

then closes again;

and you watch

and you try

but you simply can’t imagine

how they do it

with no articulated instruction, no pause,

only the silent confirmation

that they are this notable thing,

this wheel of many parts, that can rise and

spin over and over again,

full of gorgeous life.

Ah, world, what lessons you prepare for us,

even in the leafless winter,

even in the ashy city.

I am thinking now

of grief, and of getting past it;


I feel my boots

trying to leave the ground,

I feel my heart

pumping hard. I want

to think again of dangerous and noble things.

I want to be light and frolicsome.

I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,

as though I had wings.




Owls and Other Fantasies: Poems and Essays

Copyright ©: Mary Oliver



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