The Choice by Hilary Sallick

The Choice

As I crossed the stream
I looked down over
the railing as I always
do.. . . . and saw through branches
the familiar heron in
its resting pose
with a reflection bright
on the slow-running water
and I made my way down
to the small meadow
and toward the bank.. . . .I saw the wind
ruffling the feathers
of its breast.. . . .saw that black
cap of its head its
conscious eye
Then closer still I went
pressing through branches
to the bank itself
A pair of mallards was gliding
past me along the silvery water
toward the heron
Then I turned back to the path
A woman there.. . . .called out
as I neared.. . . .You were too close
It’s his sanctuary
I recognized her.. . . .the heron-woman
whose camera with telephoto
lens draws intimate knowledge
from the bird
Once she’d told me of a pair’s
progress.. . . .details of courtship
nest-building mating
and I followed her around
a fenced-off pond
But this day we faced each other
stiffly.. . . .across the tawny
stubbled ground in our matching
green coats.. . . .We moved no closer
Now a tumult of feeling wants
to be voiced in the poem
for the poem like the heron
has its needs
pure and essential ones
I try to see without
intruding.. . . .I try
but I am not made to be
a secret as the heron is
I want things
and I go too close
Always I will make that same

by Hilary Sallick

Editor’s Note: The careful imagery of this poem highlights the deliberate movements of the speaker with studied detail, illuminating the reasons for often difficult decisions.


One response to “The Choice by Hilary Sallick”

  1. Dave Williams Avatar

    I like that this reminds me of places I have been and things I have done, but with a fresh perspective. This includes the appearance of the heron woman, which is unexpected and pleasant, as is the connection to poetic impulse towards the end, and then the title lends a touch of finality.

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