Mara Bergman

For Martin

As if the afternoon had centred round its circling –
its pterodactyl wings from out of nowhere
reeling in the sky, our naked eyes following

as it homed in on the island. Numb with cold
your fingers made adjustments to the telescope
with a tenderness I'd forgotten – that scar

on your thumb, these ridges of knuckle. The heron wore
a shawl, in tatters, the fringe like the ends
of a talis, tail feathers dragging. We saw it all

through the lens, a sadness, like mourning,
while the heron stood against the wind,
basked in the sun. All around us bluetits dipped

and called Teacher! Teacher! as we talked
of heading home, then heading home.
I couldn't stop watching for some sign

or movement. The car was freezing,
the afternoon already overripe
and now this waiting and delaying

moving on, as if it mattered who left first
or if the heron left at all,
gathering its majestic weight to fly.

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