Academic journal article The Hudson Review

To a Spoonbill

Academic journal article The Hudson Review

To a Spoonbill

Article excerpt

I

What was left of the lake,

the osprey felt, was just the fish

too small to bother with. Beneath its dignity,

it scratched the surface of what was left,

and came up empty-clawed.

From a bald cypress, it sulked.

Alligators walked on water

they could no longer swim;

they tiptoed in their expensive shoes,

hungry enough to eat each other.

The lake had been this low before,

said a beer can spitting a mouthful

of sand onto the new stretch of shore.

What was lost turns to rust,

rust to lace, and here was a lost spangle

dangling from a weed, a fishing lure

tried to catch a bird's beady eye. A corsage

of tangled line was pinned to a dead stalk.

Far down the shore there was a scrap

of pink. In all this death,

how could that be? At the outer limits

of my binoculars, I unriddled

a ballerina from the big wading birds

chasing the memory of a meal

by standing still. A blush of tutu,

two wooden spoons for a beak:

my first roseate spoonbill.

O my unlikely one! You're too far north.

What brings you here? (Where

would you not look out of place?)

You won't let me draw any closer.

Are you ugly or beautiful?

Your commedia dell'arte beak

sieves the shallows for something

with the dark aftertaste of mud,

as if it's the past you stalk. …

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