for instance, the surprise
of a great blue heron walking
my marshy back field this morning
while I sit here lingering too long
over my coffee and toast.
Its pace cautious and solemn
as the late February air.
In profile, tall, awkward, lean,
gigantic even at this distance,
feathers languid and smooth.
At night this time of year
I can step from the wood-heated
kitchen to listen to chorus frogs
calling to the moon and stars
announcing their need from vernal pools,
in fields by May dry with grazing cows.
But for now the heron’s truth
is the sharp pointed entrance
of approaching spring. Stalking gray-green
waters, swirling fear that must be
below the opaque surface there.
Reaching carefully to grasp a frog
so small half a dozen could sit on
your open palm. Princes all, awaiting
the kiss of spring on their thin lips
coming like the numbness before birth
or the impaling stillness of death.
I watch the wading bird, letting the coffee
and toast grow cold, unfamiliar before me.