Beverly Burch

Once I Watched a Great Blue Heron

pilot in from the Pacific over Elkhorn Slough,
smooth as a Buick Riviera on cruise control at dawn,
empty road before it, emptiness behind,

the air still as God, yet the bird barely flapped
a feather as it swung east, then north, so low
I could see a snake dangle from its beak

like heavy saliva, a surely-dead snake, I thought,
until it wriggled up and tried to slap the Great Blue
in the face. Dead weight. I meant, Dead straight;

funny how words exchange sounds,
call up a near-twin, jump the wrong synapse
the way Ananda, Hindu word for bliss, came out

demand a when I said it to my yoga teacher;
but perhaps in the brain everything conceals its inverse.
A giant bird, virtuous in faded blue, sailing a marsh

at sunrise has a look of grace all over it, a word
to suggest dinner, a pleasant meal, cover for the brutal
story of food, the bloody business of the kill.