Nancy Wheaton, “White Heron”

orange line

White Heron

We stopped to see burrowing owls. Instead,
she crept soundlessly toward the nonchalant frog,
sunning himself on a cement block.
The new house was being painted a sage color.
A truck radio blaring, Latino workers laughing.

A worker dropped a tool, startling the egret,
but not the frog. She turned her head. Waited.
The marsh lay behind the sprawling abode.
Another round of laughter from the workers, this time louder.
Too late: the bill pierced the frog just as he turned.

Then, the business of the midday meal. We have laws
preventing torture, suffering. Yet the heron, feathers red,
stood her ground, waiting for limpness. One painter,
Rafael, watched. We did too, from the other side
of the road. Pobre, he whispered.

The whiteness of the heron, the stealth, the clearly won
victory did not erase an aura of defenseless defeat.
The frog, now almost ready to be swallowed, legs sprawled, gazed
toward the marsh. The bulging eyes, dilated pupils,
with taupe flecks, disregarding. No sun reflected.


Nancy Wheaton lives on the New England seacoast, writes poetry, reads widely, and enjoys the natural world. She practices and teaches yoga as well.


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