“Whole mind gone heron”

Archive Photo of the Day: Sr. Mary F. Barnes, Ogdensburg, NY

Archive Photo of the Day: Sr. Mary F. Barnes, Ogdensburg, NY

We all have one special thing that is the real sign of spring for us. It might be the first trillium, the first lilac. For me, it’s the first heron. Here’s a new poem from a moment long ago when that bond was set.

Hunt at Spitfire

Following just behind its shadow and just as silent,
a heron ghosts into the slough from Spitfire Lake
no more than five feet off the water, close enough
to hit with a rock, my Stone Age genes advise.

The heron too is of a hunter’s mind, spilling air
to light in an open shallow amid marsh grass.
Where fingerlings flit and feed in warmer water
the heron stands still and straight to prey.

Out of line of sight I paddle closer, careful dip
and pull to make no splash, slowly, slower,
until I ship the paddle, lie forward and slip
into reeds, pulling myself along hand over hand.

I wait and watch, feet away, as the heron steps,
stops, waits and stabs downwards. One stab,
one fish. Good hunting. Nothing is in my eye
but heron, whole mind gone heron for a spell,

until the hunter squats, leaps, beats great wings–
once, twice, thrice–splashing on the downbeat,
willing its weight into the air, a little higher,
higher, away. “Oh! Me too,” I cry. “Me too!”

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8 Comments on ““Whole mind gone heron””

  1. Kathy Dodge says:

    Wow! Your imagery captures the power and grace of a heron’s arrival. Thank you!

  2. Wonderful imagery painted with your well chosen words, Dale. What a beautiful gift to be able to bring us along on your communing with the heron in it’s natural habitat.

  3. CARAMA says:

    Thank you! Brings back the breathless moments I spent in stillness with my cat at the window watching a juvenile heron explore the very small fish pond then hop in and take care of the population explosion that had occurred among the goldfish. Dip, raise head, stretch throat, swallow wriggling prey visible on the descent. When finished he circled the pond again to celebrate his conquest the took two dancing steps, jumped, and was airborne, flying on a slant as he wove his way upward through the wetland trees. I felt I had been graced by mystery.

  4. Paul says:

    I love that poem. A terrific surprise ending!

  5. Paul Hetzler says:

    Beautiful, Dale! Thank you. We named our daughter (now 23) Heron, as my partner and I were (and remain) in awe of the grace and poise of these prehistoric flying miracles.

  6. Steve Easter says:

    A wonderful reminder of the grace and beauty of these birds. Your words capture the scene so beautifully.

  7. Marylin Cole says:

    This speaks to my heart. Thank you.

  8. Mary G says:

    This poem makes me see that morning and fills me with wonder of it all. Thannks for publishing it on NCPR site.

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