In my next life I want to come back as a Great Blue Heron.
I will majestically stand by a lake, capturing fish, capturing the eye of all who wander by, pausing in awe and desire.
And I will have the one thing I know I now lack, that trait that has escaped me for far too many years, patience, the ability to stand and stare until the moment is right, then to act. I am not in a hurry for this reincarnation, so perhaps I have more patience than I realize.
An elk stands at the edge of a placid mountain lake and sees only the clouds of an approaching winter. A black bear leans over the mirrored surface of the lake and sees only the fish that will soon be his repast. The young man draped in saffron robes looks calmly into the water and sees a pebble, the spirit of his ancestors. I look carefully into the water looking for an answer to a question always lurking out of reach and see only my ever thinning hair.
FirstAppeared in Green’s Magazine (Canada), Vol. 29, No.1, Autumn 2000.
The pelican hasn’t been around for a couple of days, and we miss his akimbo dives into the pond, surfacing and throwing his head back to show he’s swallowing his catch even though we suspect some of the time he caught nothing at all, but knowing we’re as gullible an audience as he is likely to find any time soon. We hope he is off breeding somewhere, making little pelicans that will be able to entertain us next fall when we return, birds of our own sort, not snowy egrets but snow birds nonetheless. We don’t want to know any more about the mating ritual, some things ought to be private. We learned that painful a few years ago, when my brother thought it was important we see thoroughbreds bred. We prefer our breedings like good French films, suggestive but ultimately leaving it to our memory, like so much of our youth.
We crossed the Hudson this afternoon on a Dutch named bridge in a driving rain so strong you could hear little over the beat of the wipers throwing sheets of water. You wondered why the superstructure was only on the Eastern end. I wondered why they had to have a Dutch name no one can translate. The river’s surprisingly wide here and you can’t even see the dead fish or the waste from the plants up river, its just a silver sheet of water and the slashing of the wipers and that name no one can translate.
The cannery, long before it was a mall, sat on the verge of the bay bellowing steam into the night sky shrouding the stars in a gauze blanket, listening to the braying of the harbor seals pleading for the morning’s dross to be returned to the bay waters. The otters lie on their backs peering over the rocks and the monolith its lights blazing as the trucks and carts are laden with neatly stacked boxes, grasping their stones, crushing the shells nestled on the bellies. Outside the fishermen, boats scrubbed clean, stagger down the narrow streets, stumbling from bar to tavern, sleeping fitfully on benches in the nearby park, dragging up narrow alleys to small, fading framed houses kerosene lamps growing dim, knowing the sun merely dozes below the horizon, soon to edge up and watch the boats ease back out of the harbor into the sea. Steinbeck walks slowly, savoring the smells of morning, tasting the stale beer of the night before.
First Appeared Online at Beachfire Gathering, 1996.