Mornings, the heron descends to shore.
His silver wings crescendo the air,
fermata—then fold, seeking the sleek
curve of his body. He comes to stand
by the shore and wet his feet. To watch
the waves. Once, he snaps an eel
with his beak, its shoestring body
twisting like a pendulum.
He grips it like a surgeon, sure
and still, patient, waiting while
it undulates, waiting while
it loosens, finally going limp.
Then—he flicks his head, snaps
his jaws to slide it down in one,
two, three slow beats.
But mostly, he stands, gazing out
over the bay. He is still,
contemplative. I wonder what
reflections swirl in his walnut brain:
watching the clouds for certain wings.
Wondering why the water turns
from calm chartreuse to cinnamon.
Marks that water, the collective,
isn’t quite the word for
a million facets of light and shadow.
Or, listening to the rhythm
of the waves, if he’s counting
out the measure of his creation.
This poem won an honorable mention in the 2016 Clinton F. Larson Poetry Contest.