William Doreski

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.

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