The Heron

By Linda Hogan

I am always watching
the single heron at its place
alone at water, its open eye,
one leg lifted 
or wading without seeming to move.

It is a mystery seen
but never touched
until this morning
when I lift it from its side
where it lays breathing.
I know the beak that could attack,
that unwavering golden eye
seeing me, my own saying I am harmless, 
but if I had that eye, nothing would be safe.
The claws hold tight my hand,
its dun-brown feathers, and the gray
so perfectly laid down.

The bird is more beautiful
than my hand, skin more graceful
than my foot, my own dark eye 
so much more vulnerable, 
the heart beating quickly,
its own language speaking,
You could kill me or help me.
I know you and I have no choice
but to give myself up 
and in whatever supremacy of this moment,
hold your human hand
with my bent claws.
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