It’s hard to tell the difference, the male and female
much alike—the female great blue heron, like this one,
a little smaller—so let’s say she glides landward
on slate-blue wings, her four-foot height touching
ground where she remains for hours, on the edge
of a pond across the street from where we live.
Aeration has revived the once-dead water,
so now she can beak the fish, then gulp them whole.
Ducks paddle by, quacking at her in protest
(she’ll also eat their ducklings if she can). The heron
stands at the water’s edge, seemingly indifferent,
her black-and-white-striped head tucked deep
inside her shoulders, cradling her expandable neck.
She stands for hours on a single leg that may look
to wary fish like one more reed around them.
From time to time she plunges her head into the water,
and if she spears a fish, she lifts it high to toss it
from her yellow beak into her throat. Then she strides
a few yards on, neck pumping, legs in stately grace,
to place herself across from the winter sun, with berth
on either side to escape a dog or fox.
When she’s had her fill, she rises from the pond
on a six-foot span of wings, a lilting, blue parenthesis
from beak to claw that disappears into the sky.
In her absence, her presence, like her golden eye,
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