sleeping in the forest


Sleeping in the Forest, by Mary Oliver

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, grappling 
with a luminous doom. By morning 
I had vanished at least a dozen times 
into something better.

I remembered this Mary Oliver poem recently, which for me encapsulates so many things I’m obsessed with: sleep, sleeping outdoors, sleeping outdoors in the summer. In my mind it’s always been a poem full of imagery, so it was a satisfying August project to try and create an actual image for it. I hope you enjoy both the poem and the painting!


  1. This is simply beautiful. I read this poem yesterday in a book, and was looking for it online to share it with a friend and stumbled across it here, and the image just held my heart. it is, simply perfect. Thank you so much for making the poem and its words feel even more real.

    there is magic in your paintings.
    there must be magic in your soul.
    thank you, for sharing both.

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