In honor of Mary Oliver’s work, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that is based in the natural world: it could be about a particular plant, animal, or a particular landscape. But it should be about a slice of the natural world that you have personally experienced and optimally, one that you have experienced often. Try to incorporate specific details while also stating why you find the chosen place or plant/animal meaningful.

the first time we howled
the moon was a sliver
a cup of light poised to pour
a stardust fascinator of gold
on the blue black

we were life moving through the forest
stepping on small branches which snapped with our weight
maple cracks sharp, oak cracks wet
magnolia cracks like fire
we sought the soft needles of pine

the moon was not bright enough
to cast truth on the borders
to say here, not here, there
all we could hear was the drum of fear
almost there, almost there

we were three miles free before we came to the endless river moving slow
the sun rising to pull pink steam off the
glistening path
us hunched on the rocks with fingers sliding into river

it’s so cold we gasp, and then we laugh
we’re so free we gasp
and then
we laugh