Fishing in the Charles
Claw-footing stone to stone
in shallows, indifferent
to runners, dog-walkers, us,
a great blue heron rummages
for fish for a midday snack.
As we watch, it spears and scissors
a perch, hoists and swallows it
in a long undulant gesture
of unfolded neck. Hardly
a ripple marks the site. The staid
geometry of MIT
across the river looks aghast,
but it always does. Behind us,
the Prudential Center towers
prop themselves against the clouds.
Such an urban frame to feature
such a primal event. We nod
to acknowledge the heron’s skill,
its adaptive style, the S-bend
of neck, prehensile stick-legs
that hardly seem to part water.
In the afternoon mist we sway
along the path, dodging children
on scooters, adults engrossed
in digital media, lovers
a hundred years younger than us
merged into singular beings.
The heron’s slim neck punctuates
with diacritical urgency,
but almost no one has noticed
this uncommon sighting,
and only we have paused to note
how easily that fish went down,
how bottomless the place it now
in final agony inhabits.
William Doreski recently retired after years of teaching at Keene State College in New Hampshire (USA). His most recent book of poetry is The Suburbs of Atlantis (2013). He has published three critical studies, including Robert Lowell’s Shifting Colors. His essays, poetry, fiction, and reviews have appeared in many journals.