Wednesday, June 6, 2012


A beginning

--Lake Salamonie, Wabash, Indiana

Hieratic, the heron paces the shallows
like a serious pastor with hands folded

against his spine, meditating the lessons
of small fish, the choreography of frogs,

and at my approach flaps from the water’s edge,
a poor construct of scrap board and paper

rigged with wire and pulled slapdash
into the wind, fighting for a moment

the weight of earth, heft of body, but rising,
easing now into grace between the wings.

I ask him disappearing to pray for us,
and turn, having tired of the wind.

The heron sways away across the lake
into the late sun on this day of clouds and rain.


  1. A moment in time where you both ingage but only for a brief moment but yet that is enough..

    to write this beautiful moment into a poem

    1. Liz: the moment seems to last ... or perhaps i mean that its importance has nothing to do with its duration ... when a heron notices you, you have a great (and no doubt false) sense of having been selected :-)

  2. I love the pastor image, comical but so right! and I love the pathos of "and turn, having tired of the wind" which is further emphasised by all of those lovely long a sounds in the last two lines. not entirely sure why it's a beginning though.

    1. Marion: they do preside over the shore, don't they?, sermoning their swarming little congregations :-)

  3. The heron knows exactly where to go.
    Love the feeling of movement James. ;-)

  4. Lucia: yes!! the knows, and never makes one wrong turn, never too early or too late :-) ... if only i could be so wise ...

  5. your encounters with different kinds of small _ and not so small_ birds, insects, amazing creatures of nature, moving beyond the consciousness of grace yet making possible its revelation for us, people watching, forever wondering - this is one of the most consistent pillars of your poetry, it seems to me, and one of the most revealing of your deepest nature...

    i am breathless before this amazing sentence stretching to encompass almost all of the poem, so rich with layers of meaning and feeling, the opening (perfect, absolute gem: "hieratic, the heron paces the shallows") and the ending ("easing now into grace between the wings") mirroring each other and drawing the full circle of the mystical. i love the tender humour mixed with the longing for grace, and the precision of your life-loving detail...

    for me the poem ends with "having tired of the wind", we already know that the heron is flying away, across the lake, we know this within our body, the last two lines aren't necessary any longer (for me, that is :-) i like the sudden silence after your turning away and the absence/presence of the implied flight...


    1. Roxana: i don't know if i could ever separate myself from these encounters. i think i have learned all that i know of the world (small as my knowledge may be) from birds and insects and small, shy plants. (but of course you realized this long ago :-)

      the ending of the poem ... you are absolutely right!! :-))

      writing this, i watch a starling on the grass outside my window, gathering bits of straw and twig for a nest. the morning sunlight gleams a hundred colors on her wings, as she hops about, making these simple, eternal gestures. i love her.