Destiny of the Lone Hunter by Carol A. Amato

Destiny of the Lone Hunter

What I didn’t see was the vast length
of wing-spread and the slow deep
wing-beats planing down in a wide circle
legs outstretched, descending to the pond’s
edge accordion-folded wings against its
muted blue-gray plumage

but now
ankle deep in the silt of last fall’s leaf litter
and instantly statue-still without perceptible
movement
spear-beak poised
dark pin-prick eyes able to discern the slightest
sign of life disturbing its own reflection and the
sky’s along whose borders this fall’s wild rage of
colors will soon become air-borne confetti.

Unfazed by useless beauty, the heron,
one stilt-leg lifted, bends its sinuous neck
then lightning-strikes the stalked-for prey
it swallows whole.
All that matters in the scheme of things:
the rewards of forbearance and efficiency.

It will return here until all but the oak leaves
have fallen and a transparent film of ice
forms around its patient legs.
It may stay the winter
unknown by us mere mortals why
but respecting choices we admire:
pluck and persistence and perhaps
faith in open water

or instead lift off graceful and strong fading soon
into the layered clouds and pushed by southerly
winds those beneficent purveyors of unpredictable
destinies.

by Carol A. Amato

Editor’s Note: Detailed imagery moves this poem from simple snapshot to philosophical memoir.

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