In one part of my life there was a blue heron, which now soars silently through my mind, like a dream without sounds, a wordless vision, just power and grace and surprise bordering on miraculous: how could such a creature, so brilliantly beautiful yet so mindlessly violent, exist in such a place as a small and peaceful New England pond?  I saw that heron only once, maybe twice. I  have a beautiful photo of the bird, taken as it stepped with stealth through the shallows then stood stock-still in the grasses. The photo has the look of an old National Geographic Kodachrome of a Japanese mediation garden. The bird itself looks somehow like a haiku.

Lately, though, the wonder of seeing the bird seems less rare. I’ve recently seen other blue herons flying and landing along the banks of the Merrimack River in northeastern Massachusetts. Several times I’ve watched herons strut jerkily on their spindly legs along the trash-strewn weedy banks of the old industrial canals in Lowell, Mass., then suddenly soar into the sky and wing westward toward the  river.

Two days ago, I looked out the window of my apartment in one of Lowell’s retrofitted  old mills  — and, lo and behold, there was a heron sitting quietly and basking in the morning sun (or perhaps on the lookout for a fish breakfast). Above is the  grainy photo I took with my iPhone as the heron sat on some sort of boom or barrier that floats in the canal.

The heron soon flew away, leaving behind thoughts of fleeting flashing beauty, of thin and flimsy dreams, of miracles debunked, of dreams with no sounds and of visions beyond speaking, of love and life which fly away like herons heading home to the river.

Big blue heron flies/then alights by the river/Dried-up dreams adrift


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