Poet’s Notebook: My poem, “Mr. Heron” followed by comments


It’s really very simple,
How things are going to change.

We learn what you need to know by watching
How Mr. heron stands in the marsh.

He stands until the tide ebbs
To the point where a large fish

Leaps free
As if tossed up by the water

In a floppy arc.
And then Mr. Heron stirs

Like a business man
In a grey suit,

Lifting himself slowly on wings
That never hurry.

And then you turn to me and say
He looks sad.

Yes, it is much sadder than beautiful
To watch him fly away.


We are visiting Shirley’s father in West Palm Beach. We were on the long boardwalk that stretches from the nature center to the beach when we stopped to watch a heron standing in the tidal river. They are always so solitary when you see them fishing like this, I became aware that I felt bad for him. He looked so exposed and somewhat foolish. Then a fish jumped and it was as if this woke him from his trance. The fish was too big for him, so its leap from the water was more symbolic than anything. It was almost as if he was embarrassed, as if he was saying to himself, “What am I doing!” It was as if I was witnessing a Zen moment for the heron, and that he would now be free to find something better to do . . . shedding his grey suit, finding a better way to live, that makes more sense to him.


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