Fully occupied with growing—that's the amaryllis. Growing especially at night: it would take only a bit more patience than I've got to sit keeping watch with it till daylight; the naked eye could register every hour's increase in height. Like a child against a barn door, proudly topping each year's achievement, steadily up goes each green stem, smooth, matte, traces of reddish purple at the base, and almost imperceptible vertical ridges running the length of them: Two robust stems from each bulb, sometimes with sturdy leaves for company, elegant sweeps of blade with rounded points. Aloft, the gravid buds, shiny with fullness. One morning—and so soon!—the first flower has opened when you wake. Or you catch it poised in a single, brief moment of hesitation. Next day, another, shy at first like a foal, even a third, a fourth, carried triumphantly at the summit of those strong columns, and each a Juno, calm in brilliance, a maiden giantess in modest splendor. If humans could be that intensely whole, undistracted, unhurried, swift from sheer unswerving impetus! If we could blossom out of ourselves, giving nothing imperfect, withholding nothing!
Denise Levertov - 1923-1997
The Great Black Heron
Since I stroll in the woods more often than on this frequented path, it's usually trees I observe; but among fellow humans what I like best is to see an old woman fishing alone at the end of a jetty, hours on end, plainly content. The Russians mushroom-hunting after a rain trail after themselves a world of red sarafans, nightingales, samovars, stoves to sleep on (though without doubt those are not what they can remember). Vietnamese families fishing or simply sitting as close as they can to the water, make me recall that lake in Hanoi in the amber light, our first, jet-lagged evening, peace in the war we had come to witness. This woman engaged in her pleasure evokes an entire culture, tenacious field-flower growing itself among the rows of cotton in red-earth country, under the feet of mules and masters. I see her a barefoot child by a muddy river learning her skill with the pole. What battles has she survived, what labors? She's gathered up all the time in the world —nothing else—and waits for scanty trophies, complete in herself as a heron.