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The Heron

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.

From Rounding the Human Corners by Linda Hogan. Copyright © 2008 by Linda Hogan. Published by Coffee House Press. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.

From Rounding the Human Corners by Linda Hogan. Copyright © 2008 by Linda Hogan. Published by Coffee House Press. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.

Linda Hogan

by this poet

poem

This is the word that is always bleeding.
You didn't think this
until your country changes and when it thunders
you search your own body
for a missing hand or leg.
In one country, there are no bodies shown,
lies are told
and the keep hidden the weeping children on dusty streets.

poem

We had been together so very long,
you willing to swim with me
just last month, myself merely small
in the ocean of splendor and light,
the reflections and distortions of us,
and now when I see the man from British Petroleum
lift you up dead from the plastic
bin of death,
he