Elegy to a Kingfisher

                (In memory of Guy Kuttner)

Kingfisher. Kingfisher, where

have you gone?

Barrel chested, blue banded

boister, sharing your best,

your crop always full for us.

Upstream to the source,

to the mountain and sky?

Down to the slough,

to the marsh, to the mouth?

Kingfisher. Kingfisher, who

did you see?

Perched in your madrone

along the river, glimmers

in the dimmest water,

children in the dark,

the needs of others as your own

and love inside us all.

Kingfisher. Kingfisher, when

was it last?

I saw you late a rainy day,

wired bird, ruff against the wind,

beaky smile—Tchrrt, Tchrrt,

and I wanted to fly with you,

join your quest for light,

live on the river and the mountain,

fishing love and greatness from the land.

Kingfisher. Kingfisher, why

is it now?

Of all the nows that could be,

we are here within the darkness of your wake,

but we have been with you,

your singing, booming,

flashing glory, bear hugs with your wings,

and know our souls are deeper for your song.

Kingfisher. Kingfisher, who

are we now?

We remaining, huddled, gaudy

in our meaningless plumage,

signifying nothing but our

terror of the dark.

Kingfisher. Kingfisher, what

shall we do?

Be the ones we hope you thought we were,

your most optimistic

vision of the possible,

your laughing voice within our hearts,

and live as if it mattered to the earth.

Kingfisher. Kingfisher, where

have you gone?

I hear your call—Tchrrt, Tchrrt, echo

still against the pages of the water,

in the arch and reach of trees, intertwined

with memories, heartwood in the grain,

of beauty strong and gentle,

with a softness in the soil of your roots

that lets the lives of we remaining thrive

all the more for your having been alive;

so that we may sing, Kingfisher,

sing as we go, as we all shall go,

flying to the mountain, to the mouth,

to the delta of the sky, and out

into the open sea again.