Seeing me, the heron
turns abruptly in flight,
it’s something that we are.
No, not the threat.
The turning and away.
Disappearing sweep of blue-grey.
There’s a slender, yellow-eyed branch at the edge of the path. I pretend not to notice though he is close enough to touch. Someday I may come upon his change and will carry feather twig and hollow bone to the water. Offer what’s left to the eagle. Cross that strange line again. But then I see a second, silver-grey shadow or ghost, wings fanned, hopping awkwardly in the understory. She says, “No. We are not broken. We are something else.”
This morning watching for signs, I hear the thin chain ticking like a clock. Moon after moon, we wander.
Soften your will;
even the noble wish. Leave
hunting to hunters.
Practice coming upon.
Touch your heart,
bow your head when approached
by something wild.
Early evening the rain finally stopped an hour or so ago hosts of clouds now rushing across the sky shades of grey blue splashes of torn white light dappled furling unfurling stumbling dissolving wisps. At once the world outside my window is a wash of golden light the green on green forest wall thick lush and luminous.
Times like this you know that you are blessed to be here. Times like this you know that you are blessed to times like this a blue heron you spot the lightning a moment before it strikes dart out of reach hover in your world between surface and bottom current heart beating a mile a minute more than just a little shocked. The tall threat a blur in bullrush and reed now shaken but wiser you swim deeper out of reach. Heron foiled strikes the surface ones twice three times in rapid succession stretches her long neck gives it a shake spreads broad wings wide and ever so slowly lifts out of the shallows off the river follows the clouds.
From a twisted branch Kingfisher watches it all never taking his eyes off of the meal watching watching it swim into ever deeper water away from the shelter of shadow and grass like a bullet drops from the branch head first with a splash sunlit spray deep dive up and out empty beak rattles flaps erratic upriver complaining all the way.
Spotting the flash of heron was once lucky something else before the nightmare splash of Kingfisher who knows what that was. Now you just want the last of the sunlight rushed into darkness.
Osprey sits on the edge of her nest atop a slightly leaning pole tower. She sees the flash escape the old bird who in any case serves well to mark meals for her nestlings. Glancing up she knows her mate is circling and has missed none of this so wise and swift around and around he spirals ever lower. Moving sharp eyes ever so slightly she keeps them on both the fish and the fisher. Fish hawk. Fish eagle. Master she smiles. For his part the trout is simply hovering dazed waiting for darkness knowing the better choice would be to swim straight from the river mouth into the rapids of the feeder creek now. It is already dark there sheltered and so much less threat from the sky world. The sky world. Keen curved talons hard fierce sudden crush fill his life the river gone shocked skyward lifted twisting thrashing swimming no water forever falling away. The osprey screams rolls drops quick his mate charging toward the eagle always the waiting eagle after the catch she is not fast enough and the eagle always the eagle is upon him he rolls again once twice. Shrieks enraged. A nine inch speckle trout is flying free falling falling smacks the surface of the Middle River and sinks to the bottom on his side tail twitched upright for a moment then back on his side in the sand. Two osprey chase the rogue eagle all three toward the last trace of cloud and storm.
I never see all of this at once but it is there in moments spotted captured fragments unfolding always outside my window. When I sit down in golden evening light to write and wonder what chance will appear from nowhere it arrives the shy one wishing to be told. A brief cloud twist twirl of sand where a small protagonist rested for a long moment waiting for life to return one more time. And we are away. Leaving the river behind and following the stream finally into the deep night.