A white sand heron fell onto our property. I thought it was a stray garbage bag caught in the brush until my husband said otherwise. It was beauty in death. Almost appeared still flying. With long yellow beak and green half-closed eye it appeared to have flown off an ancient Egyptian tomb.
There was no sign of a wound. Not a scab, a tear or a drop of red blood. Just a downed bird on the wing of the grass.
I looked closely at its half-closed eye, my gray and white cat at my feet, purring.
An omen? I thought about my own life, the year of depression, boozing, titrating medication, mourning a fat memoir I’d written but not published because of secrets untold, and of the recent horrors—a pandemic smothering in its embrace and riots in the streets because of too many cruel and aggressive police.
Then my daughter arrived from upstate with a homemade painted bird house. I’d photographed the heron and she’d painted it in profile, its wings embracing the woods, its closed green eye and white feathers outlined with splashes of black.
Probably no omen, rather heaven’s creature offering live witness, a reminder of the thread-thin grip of life.
Lucinda Kempe’s work has been published or is forthcoming in Matter Press, Breadcrumbs, Midway Review, Bending Genres, The Southampton Review, New World Writing, and Elm Leaves Journal. A 2018 Stony Brook M.F.A. graduate, her narrative nonfiction, Wigleaf long-listed her micro fiction in 2018 and 2019. In 2020, her work was included in Bending Genres Anthology.