The great blue heron's startle
is not the quick dart of the song sparrow
to the nearest bush..
Nor is it the crow's high caw
or the chickadee's Morse Code trill.
It doesn't flap noisily into gear
like the mourning dove
or join the pigeons
in high-tailing it up to the upper eaves.
It's almost dusk, late summer.
The pond is brown, the weather dry.
The heron stalks unseen fish,
moving slow, deliberate.
One long thin leg unfolds forward
like a ballerina in slow motion,
the other pivots in the mud.
It doesn't see me as other birds do.
Still sensing water's seismic shift with thin, sharp beak.
I fill the corner of an eye.
Its feathered crown rises,
wings gradually fill the horizontal.
It doesn't so much fear me
as appreciate that it and I are fated
to never occupy the same lush feeding grounds.
No hurry in its takeoff,
merely a gentle flap, an arcing of the neck,
a graceful lift,
a measured glide over the tree-tops.
So much for the slow, ambling, earthbound gait
of the rest of us..
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in New Plains Review, Perceptions and the anthology, No Achilles with work upcoming in Big Muddy Review, Gargoyle, Coal City Review and Nebo.