A Way with Water

by Laura Parker Roerden
I have always thought rocks uncommonly beautiful,
none the less when I notice one along the river move:
a long neck gracefully emerging from the mottled grey mound

and now pointing towards the river. It’s only in the refection
in the water that I realize that what I have before me
is a Great Blue Heron. No doubt he had seen me

long before I saw him. Now standing assuredly on one leg;
the heron seems to have no need for the symmetry
on which we depend. He is stock-still and completely ignoring me,

as if to underline my irrelevance to this watery place.
I have come to the riverbank craving inspiration,
but I feel completely inadequate watching this master of

motionless patience, who is neither too assured of his next meal
nor fully sated. He stands in a space that seems to define the
narrow middle of peace that a fish will always rise

and offer itself in a play of shadow and light capturing
imagination and intuition first as hunger. That the long spiny
bones swallowed whole, once exposed will not harm him,

but rather nourish, as stomach acids make edges supple.
I will not be present when he later spits out the undigested
parts of feathers or skull, now smooth on the forest floor

reflecting bits of moonlight and offering itself to others
as source. The heron will not look at me; I offer nothing
to him. So I take what I have come to find

and leave the river and its bend behind, thumbing
the silent stone I have picked up that now weighs
like a promise in my pocket.

Laura Parker Roerden is the founding director of Ocean Matters and the former managing editor of Educators for Social Responsibility and New Designs for Youth Development. She serves on the boards of Women Working for Oceans (W20) and Earth, Ltd.

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The Space Between Here and There

by Laura Parker Roerden

The reeds are awakening
in a dawn of haloed light.

Morning has risen
and is lined by low tide
at the edge of the marsh,

where gulls

are already signaling
I am late;

late to the riotous exposure
of mussels and clams and polychaete worms;

late to the stars

that have somehow
squeezed as if through a curtain
and are unfurling in symmetry

and colors
impossible to name.
For just at the moment I understand a hue,

it is gone, lost forever.

The wheel is always turning at this edge of this sea.
Sand is now exposed as sheen in the low light

reflecting gathering clouds.

A herring gull dives toward the sand like an acrobat,
but at the very last
minute, veers skyward

with a green crab in her beak. The crab is no more,

or less than the gull;
the sand and sky holds the moment
as if in a light box.

At the edge of the marsh
water flirts with light
where a piebald brown bird

drags behind a broken wing
like too much baggage. This bird

is scavenging the contents
of a small styrofoam container.

The other gulls gather
and crowd the injured bird out, flying away
with some fries and pieces of bun.

I pick up the container and notice
pieces of styrofoam are missing
where beaks have left

behind tiny
pockmarks.

But the bird is preening
beneath his wings and tail,
as if nothing has happened;

the tide now covering
everything left behind
in a sleight of hand.

The gulls have moved on
and are patrolling above where the

surf breaks. The sun now a flat disk
in a suddenly featureless sky.

It’s as if a dream has rolled in,
where things exposed

are now hidden and those unknown now seen.

I half expect to see the broken bird fly aloft
on gunmetal waves of power and momentum.

©Laura Parker Roerden. All rights reserved.

Laura Parker Roerden is the founding director of Ocean Matters and the former managing editor of Educators for Social Responsibility and New Designs for Youth Development. She serves on the boards of Women Working for Oceans (W20) and Earth, Ltd.

Be sure to not miss a Salt from the Earth post by subscribing here:

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