Sleeping outdoors: John Fowles and Mary Oliver

From John Fowles' The French Lieutenant's Woman:

For one terrible moment he thought he had stumbled on a corpse. But it was a woman asleep. She had chosen the strangest position, a broad, sloping fedge of grass some five feet beneath the level of the plateau, and which hid her from the vew of any but one who came, as Charles had, to the very edge. The chalk walls behind this little natural balcony made it into a sun trap…the girl lay in the complete abandonment of deep sleep, on her back. Her coat had fallen open over her indigo dress, unrelieved in its calico severity except by a small while collar at the throat. The sleeper's face was turned away from him, her right arm thrown back, bent in a childlike way. A scattered handful of anemones lay on the grass around it. There was something immensely tender and yet sexual in the way she lay…

From Mary Oliver's Sleeping in the Forest:

I thought the earth 
remembered me, she
took me back so tenderly, arranging
her dark skirts, her pockets
full of lichens and seeds. I slept
as never before, a stone
on the riverbed, nothing
between me and the white fire of the stars
but my thoughts, and they floated
light as moths among the branches
of the perfect trees. All night
I heard the small kingdoms breathing
around me, the insects, and the birds
who do their work in the darkness. All night
I rose and fell, as if in water, grapplng
with a luminous doom. By morning
I had vanished at least a dozen times
into something better.

That's the real dream, isn't it? To merge with the universe. 

Published by Kit Stolz

I'm a freelance reporter and writer based in Ventura County.

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