Wednesday, May 27, 2020

The wader

I saw a Yellow-crowned Night Heron yesterday.  It was at City Park in New Orleans. I was walking across a little bridge into a part of the park that's especially fine for birdwatching.  I looked down, and there it was.  It was wading in the shallow water, looking for prey.

It was taking slow steps on its yellow legs through the water.  Its steps were delicate and considered, as if it were walking among broken glass, trying to locate the single unmarred spot to put its foot.  

It looked up at me.  Herons seldom look at you purposefully, like a dog might.  You can't be sure they are because in many cases they are stock still and nothing about them moves.  Even if the eye on the side of their head is pointed your way, it's not necessarily focused on you.

In this case it was.  It made me feel oddly uneasy, as if it could see something about me that I didn't want seen. I wondered if it had been corrupted to the expectation of being fed.  But I doubted it.  These birds have a dignified aloofness that seems incorruptible.

Herons are often solitary and seem quite content with that life.  I am not.  I was with someone until a few months ago.  But here I am.

What a beautiful bird, with its painted yellow streak on top and sides of its head, the rest of the head black.  

You are either thrilled by the sight of birds, and especially of some birds like this one, or you are not. You can't persuade anyone to swoon over a bird just as you can't persuade anyone to love a person.  You do, or you don't.

I wished I had loved her.  We were together for about four years.  I called it off.  She lingers with me.  She's part of my body.  I know her so well I can tell you how she would move and react and talk in most situations.  I have an accrued store of experiences we shared that will never leave me.  I hold them preciously, even if, as I believe, she does not.  She won't speak to me. 

Now, I walk on, solitary, treading delicately the path of my existence.

I hold her goodness in my heart. 

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