Hunger Mountain - Vermont College Journal of the arts

Our Heron

by William Olsen

Observation isn’t serious play. It is living serious. Same heron. It’s used to us, we are as twilight. When we walk down shore. Hand me the binoculars. I’ll hand them back. No I can see it with my naked eye. Cup your ear. Drink what I say. Because what was that last squabble about? If we draw too near the heron it will go, meaning that for it we will have gone.

Which sort of makes me lonely. I can’t see it every day all day. Sunlight has nothing to do with our sharing the sight of it. I want twilight. A heron is a how-to book on twilight. Open anywhere. How-to is a lonely word. Lonely is a start. Try saying so. Try making up and try inconclusion. Try twilight.

Then try reading a book so good that every page is dog-eared and you know how safe the heron out there in the reeds feels just about now. Each twilight try the same heron the shade of twilight. Twilight hushes to such tones you have to look so carefully at what you see you become hushed yourself. Then a heron. Pulled forward by fish, the baiting saints of the shallows. Its elongated neck tapers to the beak that always precedes head and eye and ears, the beak being both an emissary for and a tender of the senses.

Sometimes behind slender reed it would vanish to sight, we couldn’t make it out, and trying to was like trying to interpret a flyleaf.

For twenty minutes we’d watch for the heron while we brushed mosquitoes from one another’s faces. The mosquitoes would have drowned in our hearts if they could have.

2011 Hunger Mountain Pushcart Nominees

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Jane Taylor January 20, 2012 at 2:11 pm

I have a heron I love. I’ve let him instruct me at twilight. I’ve written of herons but, Lordy, nothing this wonderful.


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