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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