Survival: A Guide

by Cleopatra Mathis

It's not easy living here, waiting to be charmed
by the first little scribble of green. Even in May
the crows want to own the place, and the heron, old bent thing,
spends hours looking like graying bark,
part of a dead trunk lying over opaque water.
She strikes the pose so long I begin to worry
she's determined to be something ordinary.
The small lakes continue their slide into bog and muck—
remember when they ran clear, an invisible spring
renewing the water? But the ducks stay longer, amusing
ruffle and chatter. I can be distracted.
If I do catch her move, the heron appears
to have no particular fear or hunger, her gaunt body
hinged haphazardly, a few gears unlocking
one wing, then another. More than a generation here
and every year more drab.
Once I called her blue heron, as in Great Blue,
true to a book—part myth, part childhood's color.
Older now, I see her plain: a mere surviving
against a weedy bank with fox dens
and the ruthless, overhead patrol.
Some blind clockwork keeps her going.


  1. Ultimately, we're all animals of instict driven to follow an imperative until it leads us to the inevitable. Lovely.

  2. She's just shopping for the perfect fish-happy now to wait and let it come to her.

  3. you can see the resemblence to dinosaurs within the great blue heron....majestic. jc

  4. That was just beautiful. I can bearly see the keys,my eyes are welling up. Thank you.

  5. Guess we all have that 'blind clockwork' at times, don't we? Perfect picture. Thank you.

  6. She'll always be blue to me!

  7. what would I've done without your guide to survive...just what i needed after a further 'dangerous tuesday' - thank you.

  8. "She strikes the pose so long I begin to worry..."

    They all do it, you know. Even here in Oregon where you would think herons would behave differently--more like Valley Girls, maybe. I don't know why, but I think they might be wishing they had cable TV or else opposable thumbs and eyeglasses for reading. I see them in the Amazon Canal that runs by my house, them and kingfishers, mallards, re-winged blackbirds, wood ducks, seagulls, and others. It's surprising how many birds choose to live in or near an oil-slicked stream, but they still they stay.


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Hey, thanks for your thoughts and your time:>)

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