Blue Herons

They’re cosmopolitan, these great blue herons,
gracefully adaptable and with eclectic
appetites, flourishing beneath the oaks and Spanish
moss that canopy Louisiana bayous, nesting in the pines
along the Sabine River at Toledo bend
and by the sea-oat dunes of Matagorda. Even
in the Rockies, with high avian ways inscribed in spruce

and aspen—mountain bluebirds, owls, and chickadees—
the herons thrive, in colonies on sandbars
of the Colorado river as it flattens, widens, rests
after its mountain rush, catching its breath between
Grand Mesa, to the south, and, northward,
the White River Forest. As we take an s-curve, folded
in the gorge the way a heron bends its neck

in flight, here’s one at the river’s edge, in bluish
plumage, black lapels and crest and snowy crown,
as dignified as any New York maître d’.
The order of the day is the azure sheets aloft for summer
and water playing washboard on the stones or strumming
reeds and willows. The Latins called the heron

ardea, and this one is herodias—in homage
to its courtship dance, its smoky vanes arranged in veils,
transforming light and shadow into blue desire.
Downstream, two herons wade in shallows, feeding.
Suddenly, a flash of movement mirrored,
as a dagger bill harpoons its prey. Another heron
flushes up, its long legs trailing wingbeats slow

and elegant. I feel myself slide out with it along
air currents, thought becoming strangely feathered
and unworded, as I glide above the heronry
into another valence, higher still, hearing an aery cry,
knowing in my wings how killing, loving, flying, being, all
are one—nothing beyond the act, the moment
and awareness fitting smoothly, dense and crystalline.

Catharine Savage Brosman
from her book Range of Light
Louisiana State University Press, 2007
used with permission of the poet
and with special permission of LSU Press

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