Grey Heron Nights 3: Gathering the words

Old Crane Woman is building her nest. Gathering the scraps, gathering the stories, gathering the words. Such a nest it will be this year, she whispers, as she plucks another poem out of the star-clad dark and tucks it into her crane bag. Do you see her there, down by the salt marshes, searching for poems among the rushes? She’s gathering them up, Old Crane Woman, gathering them up. Here’s one for her; here’s one for the crane bag. See how it shines …

Heron Rises from the Dark, Summer Pond
by Mary Oliver

So heavy
is the long-necked, long-bodied heron,
always it is a surprise
when her smoke-colored wings

and she turns
from the thick water,
from the black sticks

of the summer pond,
and slowly
rises into the air
and is gone.

Then, not for the first or the last time,
I take the deep breath
of happiness, and I think
how unlikely it is

that death is a hole in the ground,
how improbable
that ascension is not possible,
though everything seems so inert, so nailed

back into itself –
the muskrat and his lumpy lodge,
the turtle,
the fallen gate.

And especially it is wonderful
that the summers are long
and the ponds so dark and so many,
and therefore it isn’t a miracle

but the common thing,
this decision,
this trailing of the long legs in the water,
this opening up of the heavy body

into a new life: see how the sudden
gray-blue sheets of her wings
strive toward the wind; see how the clasp of nothing
takes her in.


6 thoughts on “Grey Heron Nights 3: Gathering the words

  1. Sharon, I am creating my own Heron Nights. My (Grey) Nights are blue as that’s the bird I see slowly lifting off near the waterside in the morning. A word or line from your story, poetry or image my starting point for a ‘shortie’, a seven lines poem. Already they are developing a storyline of their own. Thank you so much for your gift.


  2. Watching your Grey Heron Nights journey unfold is a revelation. I find that I connect on many levels with the material you are sharing here. Thank you for helping me focus on the days before the Deepest Nights of Winter.


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