Mary Oliver’s Lexicon

Mary Oliver paints her masterpieces
with words carefully chosen
from the abundant palette of language.

The black snake “halts his long ladder of muscle”
until he “pours himself swift and heavy
into the ground.”

She has described, not approximately
but precisely, a phenomenon I have witnessed
but never could have captured in a net of words.

Mary Oliver’s lexicon is not erudite or esoteric.
Instead, with her laser-like focus she selects—
from the muddle of ordinary vocabulary—
uniquely appropriate words
and creates from them odd combinations
that are simply and marvelously right.

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