Thursday, March 31, 2011

Beautiful Heron

Heron Rises from the Dark, Summer Pond

So heavy
is the long-necked, long-bodied heron,
always it is a surprise
when her smoke-colored wings
and she turns
from the thick water,
from the black sticks
 of the summer pond,
and slowly
rises into the air
and is gone.

Then, not for the first or the last time,
I take the deep breath
of happiness, and I think
how unlikely it is
that death is a hole in the ground,
how improbable
that ascension is not possible,
though everything seems so inert, so nailed
back into itself --
the muskrat and his lumpy lodge,
the turtle,
the fallen gate.

And especially it is wonderful
that the summers are long
and the ponds so dark and so many,
and therefore it isn't a miracle
but the common thing,
this decision,
this trailing of the long legs in the water,
this opening up of the heavy body
into a new life: see how the sudden
gray-blue sheets of her wings
strive toward the wind; see how the clasp of nothing
takes her in.

~ Mary Oliver ~

from "What Do We Know:Poems and Prose Poems"

While in Florida this month I spent time with the herons. It's difficult to truly capture their beauty, but just watching and snapping a few photos filled me with wonder and astonishment.  This is a young bird and she wouldn't let me come as near as I would have liked.  But when she gracefully lifted into the air, I could see the utter effortlessness of her flight.     

As Mary Oliver so eloquently writes, death is not a hole in the ground! Ascension is possible! And the path seems to be through not grasping.  

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