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



◄ Life by Numbers

De Jeune ►


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