Etude

I have been watching a Great Blue Heron
fish in the cattails, easing ahead
with the stealth of a lover composing a letter,
the hungry words looping and blue
as they coil and uncoil, as they kiss and sting.

Let’s say that he holds down an everyday job
in an office. His blue suit blends in.
Long days swim beneath the glass top
of his desk, each one alike. On the lip
of each morning a bubble trembles.

No one has seen him there, writing a letter
to a woman he loves. His pencil is poised
in the air like the beak of a bird.
He would spear the whole world if he could,
toss it and swallow it live.

The holidays have seen works of the current Poet Laureate lovingly thrust upon me. When Alan and Heidi visited, they gave me a copy of Kooser’s Weather Central, which begins with the poem above. It was a matter of minutes before I found several poems in it which I enjoyed and continue to enjoy. It was, in an oddly appropriate turn of events, a matter of just a few more minutes before I lost the book. I believe I left it in its wrapping on a table in a coffeshop in St. Paul. It was (and is) a brilliant gift, and I have since been able to replace the text.

Kooser, it is standard to mention, lives around Garland, Nebraska near Lincoln where he worked at the Lincoln Benefit Life Company and as an adjunct professor at the University of Nebraska. Laura and I recently passed through Lincoln stopping at a Wendy’s and noting that Alan would have insisted on the King Kong Burger across the street on our way to Kearney, NE where Laura’s mom is taking care of Laura’s grandfather. Regional flavor carried the day as I gave Laura’s mom a recording of loons (state bird of Minnesota) and received Kooser’s Sure Signs over a spread featuring Nebraska wine (not a typo).

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