I am always watching the single heron at its place alone at water, its open eye, one leg lifted or wading without seeming to move. It is a mystery seen but never touched until this morning when I lift it from its side where it lays breathing. I know the beak that could attack, that unwavering golden eye seeing me, my own saying I am harmless, but if I had that eye, nothing would be safe. The claws hold tight my hand, its dun-brown feathers, and the gray so perfectly laid down. The bird is more beautiful than my hand, skin more graceful than my foot, my own dark eye so much more vulnerable, the heart beating quickly, its own language speaking, You could kill me or help me. I know you and I have no choice but to give myself up and in whatever supremacy of this moment, hold your human hand with my bent claws.
From Rounding the Human Corners by Linda Hogan. Copyright © 2008 by Linda Hogan. Published by Coffee House Press. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.