I saw it out of the corner of my eye,
noticed its tall, silver form
long before naming it in my mind:
heron. It perched, utterly graceful and
still, on a fallen trunk that sloped down
into the creek we cross over every day.
Fog was rising from the water,
and I wished I could stop the car,
approach quietly with camera in hand,
and somehow arrest the moment—
then lift it, intact, to take with me
as an emblem for the day.
Instead I turned away
to face the road again,
letting the moment flick past
like the flipping of channels,
and swallowing my awareness
that we live in a world with—herons.
The children were slumped behind me,
only just lulled into a dubious harmony
that would no doubt be shattered
if we stopped, or if I called out
for them to notice this marvel,
already now behind us.
three heads swiveling,
eager to broaden their horizons
with the wonders of the natural world.
Then I pictured a careless elbow
clipping a seatmate on the chin,
and two sets of hands clawing
at the sibling with the prime view—
of this animal
who has had the good sense to freeze
as we go barreling past.
No, I decided
(and it felt ungenerous):
today I would choose to keep
this emblem of peace to myself,
not sharing it with them directly,
but thereby preserving
the absence of conflict in the backseat,
and the heron’s solitary breakfast,
and perhaps most important,
that rare jewel—peace of mind—
© 2012 Sarah Dunning Park