Louisiana, Nature & Spirituality

The Poetry of Water Birds

Canada goose and goslings

The goslings hatched yesterday.

Oh, how I have worried since I saw their mother sitting on her nest so close to our apartment complex’s drainage pond, that in the unforgiving torrents of southeastern Louisiana rain often rises up to swallow all the land it can find.  I have wanted to remonstrate with her gander, as he cruised around territorially, daring anyone to disturb her sanctuary, but seemingly unconcerned by the dangers of hungry water.  In the night, I have heard the waterfall pour down, and I have said a prayer for the little eggs under their mother’s belly.  “Let them be safe.  Let them not float away.”

They are floating now, little yellow fluff balls in a tidy line on the water, one parent in front, the other in back.  They have joined their fellow pond denizens: the few big black ducks—a chorus from a Greek play who greeted us in the early morning darkness when we first arrived here.  And the troop of male mallards—three of whom sometimes stand nonchalantly and, from my point of view, comically, on the cement wall surrounding their home.  Other times they scurry gracelessly through the complex searching for food.  Whoever said that ducks go quack?  These do not.  They mutter a low mat, mat, mat like so many absent-minded professors churning their great ideas in the open air, there being no more room left in their overstuffed minds.

Then there are the visitors: The great egrets, their beaks long, true, yellow spears, their impossibly white feathers waving in the wind like ceremonial robes.  They strut slowly and quietly through the shallows, waiting for the right moment to stab into the water and toss their prize to the back of their throats to make the long snaking journey to their stomachs.

The great blue heron does this, too, but he is more stately somehow.  Perhaps it is only his superior size, but no, there is something in his bearing that brings a certain otherworldliness to mind.  His feathers seem to change colors to suit a whim.  On a grey morning he may even become invisible, matching the air’s dusky complexion.  On a bright day, he may be streaked with blue and white and black.  Always alone, the heron is never lonely.  His pose is unhurried, the long beard of feathers at his neck giving him the air of an old man thinking of times long past and great mysteries only mystics can contemplate.

More infrequently we the see the snowy egret—a fisherman down to his great, yellow rubber boot feet.  And the lively, blue kingfisher—the lookout and the herald.  Perhaps he is even now dispersing the news of the goslings’ arrival with his twittering, kissy call.

I am grateful for these birds and for the everyday poetry they compose simply by being alive.

Thank you for reading. 🙂

2 thoughts on “The Poetry of Water Birds”

  1. A beautifully written post. I find that the birds who visit my feeder in NE Ohio – chickadees, sparrows, titmice, dark-eyed juncos – are a constant fascination for me. They remind me of the cycle of life I am a part of; that everything struggles to survive, then ultimately becomes a part of the ever-renewing earth. Somehow that is reassuring. My daily struggles with chronic illness are not unique or special, just a part of a normal existence. Then, I embrace my life as my position in a very large picture.

    Like

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