what the heron said

                    -after Robert Kroetsch

“Almost everything in the farm was
second-hand”  the place as well, told
and retold in a string of not-so-gentled
idiom—“tall drink of water” or “he’d
fuck up a one-car funeral,” nights
“colder than a well-digger’s ass”—
told over recooked breakfast coffee

like that afternoon at Gimli, “strange
weather so late in fall”—hot and sunny,
the wedding party posing along shore
for photos, a second piece of Icelandic
cake, then the sky exploding into gray
wing like the sandhills returning after
a day’s forage; what words could con-
tain the drive back south to Winnipeg?

is anything more primal than a large
bird coming between you and the sun?
the swift shadow passing; the heron’s
wings in steady pull over eight lanes
of I-80/94, just east of Hammond—
branch in its beak, me left wondering
what nesting sticks could not be found
on the other side of that traffic    or

those cranes arriving in Everglades’
last light, no sound between Shad and
me—the other birds noisily roosting
until they fell into a deep quiet over
Florida’s black water; the giant birds
tugged at the treetops, furious move-
ments against night and the others’
collected silence pooling like a list of
funeral flowers, broken branches torn
loose and borne

disquiet in their wings
as in Brandão, a man “running loose
inside himself”  a pause anticipating
these birds’ return, the retelling of
them—“the idea of trace” in debris,
concrete & green things “edging
towards myth” at road’s shoulder;
“an untimely new geology” in the
dark glass of the prairie’s runoff