A Common Egret
If I could turn my knees around,
stand patiently in shallow water,
looping my long snake-thin neck
as I stare at the dim shapes of small fish
I stir up with my feet, I would be
a white egret meditating on a meal
in the solitude of salt marshes.
You might see my head raised above
a field of reeds like a strong flower,
then disappear as I strike lightning fast
at the substance of a shadow.
If you look upon me too long, I feel
the hollowness of my stomach, then
unfolding my ungainly wings, I lift myself
a few yards above & distant, to a place
I imagine I am once again invisible.
You would do well to imitate me,
learn the art of fishing
& mind your own business.
A little girl wearing a pink dress
stands by the reception desk
in the mental health clinic,
Her eyes fixed on a man
holding an unopened red umbrella.
There is nothing peculiar
or remarkable about the man
except for the red umbrella
he has brought on a sunny day.
"Latisha, come here," says her mother,
a tall attractive woman with
tightly braided hair. Latisha
doesn't hear her mother. She is
gazing at the man with an umbrella.
"Latisha, What are you looking at girl,
come here." But Latisha is over there
by the reception desk, looking
at the man with the umbrella.
Her mother stands up, walks over,
gently takes the little girl's hand,
leads her to the seats. The eyes
of girl never leave the man
holding the red umbrella.
Latisha, if you would be a poet,
you must stand over there,
as if your soul depended upon it,
you must stay over there until
your mother brings you over here.
Gold Star Mother, to you
the honor of a white Cadillac
at the front of the parade.
Then your slow steps
escorting the wreath
up the gray slate path
to the war monument
by the public library.
Each clang of the fire engine bell
is the face of someone's son.
Four old veterans with rifles
fire blanks at the blue sky,
a nervous boy plays "Taps."
They rest there for weeks,
your ribbons & fading flowers.
Today is a good day.
The sky is Blueberry Hill.
An artist in front of the church uses watercolors.
A weed growing from the bottom of a drainpipe
has a flowering bud.
Everything is marked down
thirty to sixty percent including
translucent Jesus, a fat cop on his beat
eyeing the sleeveless teenage girls,
& the leftover Easter candy. An afternoon
No one has to pray.
We obtain what we desire. Not a single person
is disappointed. Even funerals are canceled,
all the recent dead are returning to life.
After Hell there is always Purgatory,
& the ascending concentric circles of Heaven.
Stop by for a new language & a free map.