What I didn’t see was the vast length
of wing-spread and the slow deep
wing-beats planing down in a wide circle
legs outstretched, descending to the pond’s
edge accordion-folded wings against its
muted blue-gray plumage
ankle deep in the silt of last fall’s leaf litter
and instantly statue-still without perceptible
dark pin-prick eyes able to discern the slightest
sign of life disturbing its own reflection and the
sky’s along whose borders this fall’s wild rage of
colors will soon become air-borne confetti.
Unfazed by useless beauty, the heron,
one stilt-leg lifted, bends its sinuous neck
then lightening-strikes the stalked-for prey
it swallows whole.
All that matters in the scheme of things:
the rewards of forbearance and efficiency.
It will return here until all but the oak leaves
have fallen and a transparent film of ice
forms around its patient legs.
It may stay the winter
unknown by us mere mortals why
but respecting choices we admire:
pluck and persistence and perhaps
faith in open water
or instead lift off graceful and strong fading soon
into the layered clouds and pushed by southerly
winds those beneficent purveyors of unpredictable
Poem and Photograph by Carol A. Amato
Carol A. Amato: Bio 2021 I am a language development specialist and a natural science educator. In those capacities, I am the author of the Young Reader’s Series, ten titles published by Barron’s Educational Series (and another Fireworks and Freedom) and Backyard Pets: Activities for Exploring Wildlife Close to Home (John Wiley & Sons). My poetry has appeared in many journals and anthologies, most recently: The Poet’s Touchstone (New Hampshire Poetry Society); 2019 Connecticut River Review Third Place Prize; Cape Cod Cultural Center’s Mutual Muses Ekphrastic exhibition (2020);Your Daily Poem anthology (2021); Bass River Press/Calliope Poetry anthology, From the Farther Shore (2021), and others.