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Snowy Heron, or White Egret Rice Plantation, South Carolina
from John James Audubon's "The Birds of America", (1827-1838)


See how the Snowy Heron stares.
Is it at the man or at his clothes?
See how the master goes
under his three-cornered hat,
straying from his cornered house
with its cornered posts.

See how the white egret steps,
how it is he points his toes.
See how the heron flows
in curious curves about his back,
how still he holds his beak,
and the swaying of his neck.
See the pouring of his crest
in feathery white against the dark.
His neck's white tuft drifts near his chest,
where beats his quickest heart,
as he stands white against the dark.

Look how he stands upon the hill,
lifting up the veil
round his fringed tail,
and how still he keeps his bill.
See how the foliage curls
and how sweet the breeze blows
the pointed grass and leaves
around his ringed feet.

Look how the life springs
where the heron stands,
how it is the roots search
above the dirt and sand
about the egret's feet.

The man has come across the ditch
straight as a die.
What is it the man holds
straight as a stick,
his back to the light,
his face towards the dark
of the stormy sky?


read another poem by the author on The Aabye's Baby Archive

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This page last updated: 13th November 2006.