Friday, January 2, 2009

The Great Blue Heron

"HERON" by Merissa Gilbert Garrison




The Great Blue Heron


Against the delicate
dawn of a cold day,
the heron lifts
her head elegantly,
and points her beak
to the gray sky, as she
swallows a minnow -
silver, cold, and
shiny as a mirror.


Standing constant
and unwavering
in the icy mire,
she blinks back
dully against a
memory of days.


Suddenly,
she raises her voice
in a self-conscious
testimonial – a raucous,
guttural croak
that echoes over
the pond and
reverberates through
the exploded cattails,
and descends into
the dark muskrat lodge,
teeming with half-
frozen vegetation.


Then methodically,
she takes off from the
ice-edged pond and,
like a Gregorian chant,
she rises slowly
into the air.


Flying full winged
and ancient – she
rows over the tops
of the Scots pines,
brushing the night’s
snow from the tips
of their branches
into the wintry air,
where it glistens –
thousands of
sparkling crystals
shining in the
morning light of
the New Year.

27 comments:

Catvibe said...

Gorgeous. And the artwork, just gorgeous. Is the artist a sister or other relation? I love the way you brought the music of the Gregorian Chant into the action.

laughingwolf said...

love it; i've seen them do that and heard their cries, too :D

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Hi Cat, I appreciate your kind comments. Don't you just love Gregorian chants? I don't listen to them often, but when I do...I always wonder why I don't listen more. The artist, Merissa Gilbert Garrison, is my daughter. I feature many of her artworks on OMM. Thanks for asking!


Laughingwolf - I love when a heron visits in our pond. I could watch him/her for hours. When one flies over, it looks like a prehistoric bird or flying dinosaur. And their call sounds like the cackle of an old hag. Hey! What's not to love there? Many thanks for your comment. :)

Julie said...

Hi, K. Thank you so much for your kind comments and friendship. It really means a lot to me during a difficult time to know people like you and Cat and all the others are out there. Good, people. Wonderful poets.

This poem is excellent and calms my soul. It is a beautiful portrait of nature. Yes, the artwork is also beautiful.

I love the last stanza. I can see the great blue heron brushing the tips of the snow covered branches. What a perfect picture. I love herons. I love their patience, their ability to be still for so long, to become part of where they are at as they search for food.

My husband and I love to kayak or canoe, and we've noticed the herons will follow us downriver. Now I will think of you every time I'm on the river. Beautiful.

Wishing you many blessings for the new year. Thank you for your friendship and wonderful work.

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Julie, It is so very good to see you back. I hope things are going better in every regard. You and yours are in my constant thoughts and prayers.

It is gratifying that this poem has brought you some peace. It is always like that with nature. I would be hard pressed to choose just one spirit guide "out there". Perhaps, it is they that do the choosing, anyway.

Yes, Merissa is a talented artist. I love that I can use her work here to compliment the poems...and vice versa. Thanks.

How generous a tribute, to say you will think about me when you are on the river, with the herons following behind (love the image). High praise indeed!

Best Wishes for '09
With many thanks ~K~

gel said...

Vivid and regal. You captured this birds dignity and grace wonderfully.

Your daughter's artwork is lovely. I'm glad the first commenter asked if she is a relation. I've wondered that as I've greatly admired her work throughout your site. I'm a professional artist...

Karen said...

What a talented family! Both the painting and the poem are just perfect.
Once a year we are visited by a great blue heron. He sticks around for a few days, fishing in our creek. One of my favorite memories is of my elderly father trying to sneak up on him to get a close view. Dad looked like an old bird himself, as he lifted his skinny legs to step quietly. Needless to say, the bird was totally aware of the situation and lifted those majestic wings at just the right time.
Your poem brought that all back to me.

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Gel, I always feel an immense responsibilty when describing a wonder of nature. Your comment is so welcomed and appreciated.

I appreciate, too, your recognition of Merissa's artwork, and thank you on her behalf. I saw on your site that you're starting a jewelry line. How wonderful. I know your photos are so impressive - very artistic. I'll be stopping over later. ;D.



Karen - I loved the story about your dad sneaking up on the heron! Great little mental snapshot. Embellish it and send it to Outdoor Life.

I am glad I was able to invoke a memory that must certainly be amusing and wonderful. :)

I appreciate your compliment on both painting and poem. Merissa has been thinking about putting up a web page featuring her art. She is busy - but I hope she will.

trooping with crows said...

I love this being all about nature. It is almost as though the air itself was making this observation. Gorgeous in every line.
I share your love of herons. I always thought they look so pre-historic when standing still or moving ever so slowly in a pond or swamp. Even when in flight, they just look like a pterodactyle(sp?)

I love the idea of something "ancient" bringing in the new year. I love a connection to an old world. I always look to nature for all of the beauty, peace and simplicity that you have perfectly captured here.

Thank you to everyone for all the nice comments on my painting!

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

TWC - Yes, the old herons living here are legendary as far as I am concerned. From the first moment I saw one land in the pond, I was in love. However, I do feel sorry for all the little aquatic animals in the pond who serve as breakfast, lunch, and dinner! ;)

Thanks for all the good commmentary and insightful remarks.

Minister of the Masochistic Truth said...

The painting really works well with this poem. The whole piece made me think (longingly) of some of the kayaking trips that I did this past summer. Your poem really brought me back to that sense of tranquility.

Memories aside, I liked the "character" of the Heron as you have represented it here - a definite charisma, personified with the whole atmosphere of the surrounding wildlife and Gregorian theme - truly exhibits the cathedral-like sense one has when alone with nature.

Beautiful!

Rick said...

Sorry to have been away so long, K.

But I have to tell you that coming back to your work is like coming home to a den full of my favorite books and hot tea.

Your voice grows stronger and richer with each presentation.

joaquin carvel said...

i echo all the comments above.

you have a particular gift of balance - in several of your poems there is a richness of detail that paints vivid and precise pictures without ever getting in the way of the flow of language or the feeling of the piece(s) - this is(i think) a brilliant example of that.

i especially love the first and third stanzas - the former for how it swallowed me, the latter for how it brought me out, across, down and in....just wonderfully crafted.

(i tried to write a new year's poem but it wouldn't cooperate - kind of glad now - this one's perfect.)

also great to see such artistry passed on...across mediums and generations, but with equivalent sense and vision... wonderfully complimentary.

Sarah Hina said...

This one really moved me, and like all of your work, K, it did so gently, but also with great control and authority. I so often "see" your poems, so it's gotten to the point where I regard you as a film director of poetry (man, am I making any kind of sense? ;)). You just impress images on the mind so vividly, but so smoothly. It's seamless.

And yes, there is a poignant thread of continuity to seeing this old heron soar into the new dawn. Beautiful celebration of the new year. Love those exploded cattails and the Gregorian chant comparison, especially.

And your daughter's artwork shines.

Scott Ennis said...

Ethereal. I've been searching for a catalyst to bring flight back to my dreams. This may be it.

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Minister - Glad to be able to call back such tranquil times.

I wanted to give the heron a semblance of knowledge without making her cartoonish. So, I thank you for your keen observation. Love - cathedral-like sense - that is the feeling, exactly! Thanks!! ;)



Rick - Welcome back!! :D
Your thoughtful compliment is much appreciated. Sugar or milk??

If my voice is growing stronger, it is because of readers like you, who encourage and appreciate. Thanks, my friend.




Joaquin - How lovely your comments. I value your studied critique more than I can say.

I cannot imagine your not being able to pen a verse...but I know it happens. Had you gotten it down on paper - it would have been stellar, like every poem you write.

My mom was an artist and my aunt a published poet - so the beat goes on....

Thank you so much, dear Joaquin. ;)



Sarah - You make perfect sense everytime you comment, my friend - and it is so gratitfying to me, that you "see" my poems. What a wonderful thing to say to me! Director, I like that! ;D

From one nature-lover to another -
thank you so very much. Your words are like gifts, wrapped in the most sincere packaging. *?*

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Scott - What a beautiful statement and lovely praise from a poet whose work I admire. Cheers, Scott.

George said...

K. such a serene beauty you had surrounded me with in the crafting of your poem. I will be thinking of these images the next time I meditate to an almost surreal dream-state.

Vesper said...

What a beautiful painting in words to complete the beautiful painting on canvas... It fills my heart with the elegant wonder of nature...

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Hi George - That is very flattering, thank you. I know you are of native American descent. I imagine that you must meditate on many of our beautiful creatures and wonders of nature. I hope this poem serves as a worthy meditation and brings you peace.



Vesper - From one nature lover to another...thank you so much for your kind words. ;)

Geraldine said...

What a lovely tribute to a regal bird. Well done!

www.mypoeticpath.wordpress.com

S.L. Corsua said...

How you've described the burst of movement, in the third stanza -- that's the definitive part for me... Gave me a sense of soaring. ;) Thank you for that. And to your daughter, too, for sharing her artwork. Creativity runs strong in your family, K. Cheers.

George said...

Well it doesn't show all that much, OK. Maybe a little. But I also draw my energies from my German, England, Ireland and a few other assorted heritages a mutt kind of sort.

I always enjoy coming to your blog.

So, I would like to honor you and your blog by presenting you with (The Honest Scrap Award), Just stop by to accept your award. It is well deserve. Once I have it all posted...

sawan said...

thats a beautiful poem!! felt like you just gave life to the painting!

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Geraldine - So glad to see you here at OMM. Your description is perfect - a "regal" bird! Many thanks and please come by again. ;)



S.L. - Sincere appreciation for your kind comments on both works.

I have often dreamed about flying with birds... I can see that you would enjoy that, as well. :)



George - There are a lot of us mutts around - I am English,
Scot Irish, French, German, and Native American. Both sides of the family have been in American since before the Revolution.

I am happy that you have found a little refuge here at OMM. I hope you will visit always.

I am deeply honored that you find my blog worthy of an award. I will be over to pick it up. Thanks a million! *?*



Hello, Sawan, and welcome to Old Mossy Moon. I am happy to have you visiting from India! How exciting. Thank you for your very lovely comment. I hope you will visit here again soon. ;)

JR's Thumbprints said...

In my neck of the woods we call them pterodactyls. They eat the fish out of our pond. My dog almost caught one once.

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

J.R. welcome to OMM - I appreciate your visit.

I know, that's we always say - they do look like pterodactyls.
(Glad the heron got away.) Our dog never really bothered with the herons...he was too busy catching the little salamanders! lol :o

Thanks, for stopping in. Hope to see you here again. ;)