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.
This is the word that is always bleeding.
You didn't think this
until your country changes and when it thunders
you search your own body
for a missing hand or leg.
In one country, there are no bodies shown,
lies are told
and they keep hidden the weeping children on dusty streets.
But I do remember once
a woman and a child in beautiful blue clothing
walking over a dune, spreading a green cloth,
drinking nectar with mint and laughing
beneath a sky of clouds from the river
near the true garden of Eden.
Now another country is breaking
this holy vessel
where stone has old stories
and the fire creates clarity in the eyes of a child
who will turn it to hate one day.
We are so used to it now,
this country where we do not love enough,
that country where they do not love enough,
We do not need a god by any name
nor do we need to fall to our knees or cover ourselves,
enter a church or a river,
only do we need to remember what we do
to one another, it is so fierce
what any of our fathers may do to a child
what any of our brothers or sisters do to nonbelievers,
how we try to discover who is guilty
by becoming guilty,
because history has continued
to open the veins of the world
more and more
always in its search
for something gold.