In Two Wing Beats by Michael Cole

to the memory of Mary Oliver

Great Blue Heron—blue-gray watchman with a golden-eyed stare—lifts from the breakwater and in six more beats, slow-glides down-shore pulling along his spindly black legs. A shadow in the rushes. He has been likened to an ascetic preacher…in his death robes delivering his sermon to whatever small creature will listen. I see him as a lanky, old hunter, spear at the ready, waiting for the meal at his feet. His patience is astounding. As is the stealth. In the lake’s easy breeze, those same legs move like leafless branches in marsh water then come to a dead stop. With a single lunge, he blinks and it’s over. No commotion. Death and breakfast, pure and simple. The sun begins its slow climb up the day’s ladder.

After thirty years at Kent State University (as a non-librarian in the library), Michael Cole now lives with his artist wife on the shore of Lake Erie in Ohio.

Photo by Allie Smith

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