We watch what we think is hesitance
as its long legs enter the stream’s edge
after a few moments we call forever,
and even then, the movement
deliberate, slow, what fear might look like.
Someone close by guesses crane,
someone else jokes albatross,
while it continues its measured pantomime.
We wait as if we understand, our eyes
on the blue-gray body, its plumage
a motionless splendor high above
the soon-to-be-caught pathetic prey.
Amazed at how it has adapted to this life:
creek bed at its disposal, nearby lake
dotted by open mouths of camellias.
Days before seeing this great blue heron,
I, too, entered a procedure, cautious,
believing the day could continue
unscathed despite protocols, alterations.
To adapt is survival. So I sign paperwork,
fasten ties of an examination gown, pace
words so as not to say too much at once.
As I think this, with no falter of step or target,
the majestic bird strikes the water, its neck
a frog’s tongue, its bill a sharp tool, precise,
so perfect in its hunt, we stand
stunned. The outcome: we witness the heron swallow
dinner, swallow doubt.
Despite the earth’s revolutions, I take home
shallow steps, a self-reliance to ground
myself in a world slightly changed, a bit untarnished,
continue in a realm benign.