Grey Heron Nights 10: Hatching beauty


Old Crane Woman is thinking. Sitting on her nest, thinking, thinking. She’s thinking about all kinds of things, Old Crane Woman, but right now she’s thinking about beauty. Beauty, you laugh, and Old Crane Woman hears you. You think she’s ugly, Old Crane Woman? With her sagging skin and knobbly knees, hair all matted and tattered and grey? You think you know what beauty is, boy? You think it’s the blandness of youthful skin, the softness of plump young flesh, the innocence of bright young eyes?

You ask Old Crane Woman what beauty is. Old Crane Woman will laugh. Yes, she’ll tell you, beauty is all of those things. But beauty isn’t just one thing. You want to know what else beauty is? Look again at Old Crane Woman. See how she rises there from her nest, stretching her bony old arms, arching her long, thin neck. See how still she stands, how still. See how her skin shines in the starlight, skin that is thin, transparent, and worn. You want to know what beauty is? Look again at Old Crane Woman; hear her cracked, croaking song. Beauty is a body bowed from the weight of a life fully lived. Beauty is hair bleached in the light of a life fully loved. Beauty is the angular, bony edges of a life fully risked. Look into Old Crane Woman’s cavernous black eyes: you’ll learn a thing or two about beauty. Listen to Old Crane Woman’s song: you’ll learn a thing or two about beauty. Listen to Old Crane Woman laugh in the long, cold dark. Listen to her weep in the fragile light of dawn. Listen to her joy in the pain of giving birth. Are you learning now about beauty?

You think she cares what you think? You think she cares, Old Crane Woman? Old Crane Woman is hatching an egg. She’s the watcher in the dark, the keeper of the tales. She’s the guardian of the gate, the crystal in the cave. She was here before you and she’ll be here after you, Old Crane Woman.

You pay your respects.

5 thoughts on “Grey Heron Nights 10: Hatching beauty

  1. There is the tender supple beauty of youth, and then there is the fragile bitten beauty of decay. I find that decay is as compelling a subject for my photographs as new green shoots and flowers’ buds and newly unfurled blooms. I am writing about the soon on my own blog, but you have framed the matter in a way of meditation and confrontation with the energy and presence of awizened and wisened one. This whole series continues to be well plotted and thought through. A proper journey for the deep winter. Thank you again.

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    1. Aurora, you are kind to have faith in my plotting and thinking through, but I really am very literally making this up as I go along 🙂 There is no plan, only an unfolding. These days there is a heron who flies from the river to a field of tall rushes in the bog when I walk the dogs there in the early morning. By the time I come home from the walk, I find that Old Crane Woman has something more to say. I think the best journeys are often the unplotted ones … maybe the truest ones, or at least those which spring directly from the heart … thank you for continuing to read!

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      1. All the more wondrous then, for you listen and respond with your heart and soul. Clearly not made up, but presented to you as a messenger to share with us. Thank you then, and Old Crane Woman, whom we are meeting through the words and images you share.

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  2. And night after night these ten days already I read your words and let mine come. As they do, night after night for ten days already. And tonight the point of entrance will be, must be , “beauty is a body bowed from the weight of a life fully lived.”

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