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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 7, Number 1, March 2013

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Elizabeth Kudlacz
Groton, Connecticut, USA


Island of Egrets

March. Dusk—the time of day shamans catch souls. In the small coastal lake down the road is an island, a tangle of trees, mostly bare. Lingering scent of snow and yet here is a great egret in careful, angular flight, its jutting thrust of breast preceding its perch. Settling in, one white wing stretches, one yellow eye watches me.

Spring maples—
old ladies made-up with just
a touch of lipstick.

June. Dead tree snags now hidden amongst thick green of the living. An egret walks haltingly through the water, like a bride down the aisle, piercing muck with sharp bill. Sun still rages at 8 pm but I cannot wait for dusk to call more egrets home. Peas must still be picked, the lawn mowed.

How long the front porch
stayed warm where we sat
watching sun set.

Mid-August. No rain for weeks and what little lake water there is holds the evening sky's colors like a painter's wash. In the trees, the silk shrouds of three egrets. Bills facing inward, they cannot see the fish carving its way through the shallows just below their roost.

The clatter of ceramic.
Silence. Dinnertime
at the nursing home.

September's sun slips over the horizon quickly—how can something so large, so red, be lost? Under nearly full moon, katydids grind away last bit of summer. I count 22 egrets by the esses of their bent necks. As sky darkens, their white feathers become startlingly luminous. A restless bird shifts, squawks. How much longer before they leave?

Preparing for long nights,
I learn to fold these days
into paper cranes.

November's dusk comes early. Passing the lake on the way home from work, I'm surprised to see two egrets—one perched in a low bough and the other, its reflection.

When her memory fades
look in the mirror,
daughter.

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