Thursday, November 08, 2007

Kerygma

In earnest the mallards rise to the river's surface, and expel. On the sandbar, a clash of quacks and wings, a shrill ruckus that makes four deer wading at the ford pause. A stare, an earflick, then lowered heads drink before long ankles carry them on, white rumps gracefully swaying. Branches of a box elder, falling sideways as the rains erode its root-bound banks, droop over the sandbar. The mallards sleep there on hot afternoons, standing one-legged in the shallows, safe from overhead.

The grass is getting long, now. Leaves fall everywhere, dry green. Two woodchucks, brave and brown, lie on the glade and chaw at blades sawing in the breeze. Everyone pretends the redtail hawk has moved on. The sky's dome is dotted with black dots of sparrows, the woodchucks stay within reach of dense juniper bushes.

Oak branches curve down, black jagged lightning bearing fruit, where the wild turkey flock has just glided down. The day's round will take them foraging, then back here to roost. They fight and call in between bouts of pecking for food. In the evening, cinders zigzag from lower branches to higher, as they settle in.

Deer are silent, never saying much to strangers. They keep their dreams to themselves. You can listen a long time to hear a deer thinking. You must silently stalk them, downwind, remaining still when they look your way, unbreathing. When they look away, inch forward. When you can touch them, fingers brushing fur over spine or flank, and they do not start and run, perhaps then they'll speak to you.

And the eye of the great blue heron watches from its roost across the river. It preens long wing feathers. And the great golden eye orbs slowly in the ambering light. The heron turns to look at you, a long stare that could mean anything, could be a reproach, or a wish. And the great wings spread and flap as the giant neck lunges out. The heron swoops down and levels off above the stream, flying upriver, towards sleep, and dreams of silver-sided trout hovering in a deep riffle at the bend.

a gold maple leaf
the last to fall from its branch—
cicadas, ceasing

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