Great White Egret

     for Sage

O ghost of startling beauty!
Great Egret, with your white breast
that flashes in the sky, before our eye:
you swoop in a swift half-circle
your wide-open wings braking against
invisible air, there,
before you curve in the other direction
making half of a figure eight, the symbol of eternity.

Now you stand, balanced momentarily
on top of a low fence
peering down before you disappear
from the street-view,
—we follow you—unable to resist
the invitation to a divine mystery:
beyond the hill of ivy, the air has borne you
to the shallow waters of the stream.

There you are hunting.

At dusk, near the end of day,
hunger drives you, and you wade
in dark waters, your long neck outstretched,
moving slowly in your slenderness,
your legs as black as your wings are white,
watching the way of the air around you,
watching the ripples in the water,
watching for tiny movements in the silent stream.

Your twin walks beside you,
your white wings reflected in the water.
The trees overshadow you both.
When you lift yourself into the air,
she disappears as if you were never there.
But when the trees and the tall grass
conceal you, when you have gone on
where our eyes cannot follow you

still, we know, you live.

Jane Beal
Walnut Creek, CA – 12/28

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