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.