"Egret"   Copyright 2000 Dancing Bear

The White Birds

As soon as I learned I was confused about
their identity, they went away.

The white birds might have been grown egrets—
Common, yellow bills, orange when breeding,
legs and feet black, larger, with nothing beyond
beauty to distinguish them.
Snowy, sloping birds—
a feathered kick pleat along a smaller back,
flamboyance hiding a less eager neck.
Or, immature herons, Little Blues,
not yet colored by gravity and joy,
black-billed, but not native to this highway.

I wanted to wish them foolishly Great Blues,
an imaginary state of heron, of gray, of blue transparent,
as deep as undiscovered sky,
a daughter's eyes that people say are see-through.

It isn't clear.
A person could die, a bird could fly away,
that eroticism, that field of springs.
This confusion would explain their ignorance—
the middle of the road is not a place for birds.
The meridian only moves like the sea,
waving with overturned station wagons,
trash, skid marks even in that lush lap.

My field guide spells the names,
Areda herodius and Casmerodius albus—
explains that yellow stocking seams on young black legs,
rising well above golden slippers,
may fool at a distance
an amateur like me—
a woman on the verge of herself.

Jennifer Swanton Brown copyright 2000

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