Egrets in a Pasture

 

gray on gray in morning

white on green at noon

glowing coral in the gloaming

gone by night

 

so many egrets in the pasture

now as winter nears feeding together

still    slow    steps

sudden spear staving hunger

indifferent in their scattered flock

swallowing frogs and gophers

or picking maggots from the dung

 

looking up I see the honkers rise

from the bottom to the dune

flapping wing to wing

each a unit of the whole

as in the other’s blind

jostle squawk scramble

the V taking shape then losing squadrons

coming apart at the turns

spawning smaller Ms and Ws

that surge and straighten to another V

 

but these stilted specters in the thistle

single flames atop impossible stems

do not seem to know each other

as if they are the same bird

each in a different part of its own life

then as I watch I see

that they are moving like the geese

aware without the fanfare of their place

but more the space between them as they graze

they take no heed of me

I think they know about the fence

a patch of safety for their quest

zoned and plotted not yet subdivided

plowed and fallowed remnant of a meadow

of which they do not know and would not care

a movement in the mud the pulsing prey

is all their flight-bred minds are focused on

but fly they will when darkness hides their chase

across the bottomland and bay

together mostly silent and alone

to light upon the boughs of home.