The Great Blue Heron at the Retention Pond
never fills me with sadness when I see him wading
there alone among the cattails. Filled with aspiration.
Filled with tiny, fat-headed minnows popping up
and down in the water like a gentle falling rain.
He goes about plucking them from the brown-
bottomed lake fail. Stuffing his throat full
for his hatchlings a few weeks out of blue shells
and waiting for him. Still, I know he owns his life
of solitude, mornings stuffing his cheeks with fish
and carrying sticks to his gal who is always nest-
building. Solitude and his partner and the nest and six
blue eggs. I snap a few photographs: Heron against cattails.
Heron shadow scaling morning mist. The condo pool
chairs buckled from last night’s party and somehow:
Heron, wading without a fucking care in the world—never
once filled me with loneliness as the loneliness I filled up on
this morning walking my dog around the pond, we came upon
one single Mallard drake floating along the shoreline.
So consumed, I was, with loneliness. But what’s different
about those two birds? Why do I imagine one is happy alone
and the other isn’t? Later in the week I saw him walking
a single line up and down the fence next to the tennis court
and I could’ve started crying, if I were the kind to cry.
I don’t know a thing about Mallard drakes or hens or hatchlings.
Little duck, bright green head bent in offering toward the storm
water, bent toward some fish he won’t catch, I thought. The girl
from the condo disrupting the morning alone, splashing in a pool,
bent chairs, storm and storm waters, hungry fox stalking the cattails.
Jessica Jewell is the program coördinator for the Wick Poetry Center at Kent State University. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Nimrod, The American Poetry Journal, Harpur Palate, Copper Nickel, Rhino, Barn Owl Review and Poetry Midwest, among others. Her chapbook, Slap Leather, was published by dancing girl press in 2011.