Issue 39 - 40, September 2006 A u s t r a l i a n    H u m a n i t i e s  R e v i e w

Heron

by Stephen Edgar

© all rights reserved

Among the rusty metal
And half-dead trees festooned with shreds
Of bark, the concrete ramp and ugly sheds,
This pool, this little

More than sump that feeds
A dam, snag-full of weeds and logs,
Still fosters a depleted racket of frogs,
Attendant birds.

And here an empty presence,
All surface and no mass, displayed
Like origami folded out of shade,
A heron fastens

Immovable precision
And unknown time upon the muddy
Soak that is its inauspicious study,
Shunning intrusion,

Until, some inward term
Now calculated as complete,
It stirs and paces with slow, conscious feet
Along the rim—

Such care—as though just one
False step might brush the snare or jag
Inwoven in the envious world, and drag
The clear day down.

A solo jogger plods
The path (his double soon recurs),
Groups, families with high-pitched harbingers
Of cycling kids.

In two worlds and one mind
The white-faced heron hears the strangers,
Weighs up his need against their vagrant dangers,
And stands his ground.

Out of the louring cold
A heron once materialized—
Whose slate-grey silence in the air incised
The space it filled

As it sized up in passing
The garden's pond—magnetic north
To the charged, latent morning it drew forth,
Absently forcing

Our faces to the windows
Like gathered cloudlight in the panes,
And almost lifting from the walls their skeins
Of tending shadows.

 

Stephen Edgar lives in Sydney and is the author of six books of poetry, the most recent being Other Summers (Black Pepper 2006).

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