Great White Heron

While visiting the ancient fortified town of Chinon in the Touraine region of the Loire Valley, I noticed examples of both kinds of protagonists mentioned in this poem. Although the latter proved harmless (at least to our group) I much prefer the former, especially at sundown.
 

Great White Heron


 

A great white heron struts through

tangled water meadows

in search of boneless morsels:


 

eyes fixed, silent in stealth,

its dagger-beak sudden

doom for fry and fingerlings;


 

now stops, stretches shuddering,

lifts alabaster wings asplay,

and springs in air,


 

stick-legs dangling, describes

a leaping spiral, its neck retracted

in an 'S' of disdain;


 

indifferent to hungry

short-toed eagles,

gliding above, silently.


 

Below, on the damp reed-bed's

prospect, made jagged by sedges

and smoothed by quiet waters,


 

the big white bird alights as

day falters; becomes

by degrees a shadow puppet,


 

intricately displayed as

a rich screen silhouette

by the brief and falling sun;


 

the wide Vienne at Chinon,

for a moment a dimmed backdrop

to une ombre chinoise.


 

On its darkling concrete banks

human predators stir, quietly

fingering dagger-blades,


 

seem to hunt their prey

for an evening feed,

shrinking from last light


 

as eagle-eyed gendarmes

pick out a crouching figure

on a grassy levee:


 

torch lights, shouted orders;

another boneless morsel

in the bag.


 

Chris Hubbard

Chinon, France

2016


 

◄ Life by Numbers

De Jeune ►

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