Thursday, March 19, 2009

Totem


All winter this heron has been living in the bushes at the edge of our property. It has been a good neighbor, and we loved the sound of its quocky voice. Loved, too, the way it strutted out into the open like a boulevarding Maurice Chevalier, its bright orange eye flashing this way and that, taking in what's there to be seen. It became, as time passed, increasingly oblivious to our presence, as if to assert that this island belonged as much to it as to us. More, certainly, to it than to us. The heron is the native; we are the blow-ins.

Now the quocks have silenced. The heron sits subdued at the edge of the bushes, unable to properly stand or fly, barely able to spread its wings. Uncertain of its plight, we have provided food and water, which it ignores. We have thought to capture it, but have no idea what we'd then do with it, especially in this our last two weeks on the island. It seems serenely determined to die, and I am inclined to let it have its way. But with sadness and regret.

Regret. There is a heron hiding in that word, even as our heron hides in its unarticulated necessity.