Cyphers Magazine


Publishing poetry, prose and art since 1975

Grey Heron Is Not A Hood Ornament

By John Kinsella

The twelve-footer outboards in from the bay,
its ingress watched by gulls and the odd jogger.
The sea’s a glasstop, so the chevrons from the boat’s
passage tamp the harbour’s walls. On its prow,
a grey heron, still as sculpture, staring down
the man tillering the motor. His haul under
wraps. The heron is in fully retracted mode,
compact and warping definitions of grace.
Its lack of animation prompts inanimate
comparisons: it looks more like a hood
ornament than a mascot. Patience
is another variable, with grey heron’s
‘stabbing’ beak, its quick-as-a-flash
reflexes. All that immanence. A binary
relationship, a symbiosis, pragmatism
of hunger and symbols; whatever
works in the conditions. When the sea
is rough, such ornaments don’t stick,
or don’t try. The bird flies, though it will
come back if it lives another tide. One day
it just won’t arrive, though another might,
enraptured by a semiotics of balance,
the stern riding low and unctuous,
a bellyful, a prow to be held in place.

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