poem index

Window Seat: Providence to New York City

Jacqueline Osherow

My sixteenth
egret from
the window
of this train,
white against
the marshes'
shocking green
cushioning
Long Island
Sound from
Kingston down
to Mystic against
the shoreline's
erratic discipline:
the egret so
completely
still, the colors
so extreme,
the window
of my train
might be rolling
out a scroll
of meticulous
ancient Chinese
painting: my heart-
beat down its side
in liquid characters:
no tenses, no
conjunctions, just
emphatic strokes
on paper from
the inner bark
of sandalwood:
egret, marshes,
the number
sixteen: white
and that essential
shocking green
perhaps even
the character
for kingfisher
green balanced
with jade white
in ancient poems—
every other element
implicit in the
brush strokes'
elliptic fusion
of calm and motion,
assuring as my
train moves on
and marsh gives way
to warehouses
and idle factories
that my sixteen
egrets still remain:
each a crescent
moon against
an emerald sky,
alabaster on
kingfisher green,
its body motionless
on one lithe leg,
cradling its
surreptitious
wings

Copyright © 2012 by Jacqueline Osherow. Used with permission of the author.

Jacqueline Osherow