all poems and photographs
© by Maya Stein

all poems and photographs
© by Maya Stein
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Wednesday, July 13, 2005

prayer on the marsh

if you would, god,
spare the egrets.
let them be.

leave them to their long-beaked wanderings.
leave them to their moonlight zen.
leave them to their tiptoed inquiry.
give them their full measure of
egret happiness.

they've done so little to disturb the planet
from evolving.
they forgive even my hasty strolls past them,
say nothing when i trip on my own shoelaces
and curse into the darkness.
they hear the curse
and move on,
silent as fog.

i'm doing the best i can, god,
but i can't lie.
i've kicked up a lot of
useless dust.
destroyed things.

not the egrets.
they've promised nothing
they couldn't deliver.
they love this place
because it's that simple.

each night,
despite all of our rude encroachments
they graze on the expanse
with such generous quiet,
such guiltless tranquility
and for this, god,
for this,
they deserve to be saved.

3 comments:

Kate said...

I stumbled upon your blog after reading superhero Andrea's summer newsletter, and it touched me. I am a birdwatcher and I have a particular draw towards marshland birds such as egrets and herons; I take loads of pictures of them because they mystify me in how prehistoric they are. A rookery of Yellow Crowned Night Herons appeared one summer in the vacant lot next to my inlaw's summer home on the bay in Avalon, NJ. They have kept me captivated, rearing their young year after year, returning to the same patch of untouched land, surrounded by rapidly expanding development of the rest of the shoreline. They, like the egrets, are so quiet and unobtrusive, and very zen-like in their movements, from treetops to feeding grounds on the mudflats. Thank you for your poem.

Anonymous said...

lovely poem
some eqret pix
marilyn's hub ralph

Norene said...

Monday night I was walking with a friend along the bay. She was telling me a long, convoluted story about her grandfather and a kind of betrayal that was his life.

A snowy egret waded in the surf, and as I listened to my friend, I couldn't take my eyes off the bird. The simplicity of its movements dictated a certain way of living, of moving beyond the peculiar complications of the human, beyond the guilt, beyond the destruction.