The Blue Preacher

 

I was vacationing in Florida with my family and was absolutely fascinated with all the herons in close proximity. I photographed this fellow stalking along the shore and was excited to paint him when I got home. This was a merit image at IPC. I titled it “The Blue Preacher” after a poem by Mary Oliver.

Some Herons

A blue preacher
flew toward the swamp,
in slow motion.

On the leafy banks,
an old Chinese poet,
hunched in the white gown of his wings,

was waiting.
The water
was the kind of dark silk

that has silver lines
shot through it
when it is touched by the wind

or is splashed upward,
in a small, quick flower,
by the life beneath it.

The preacher
made his difficult landing,
his skirts up around his knees.

The poet’s eyes
flared, as poet’s eyes
are said to do

when the poet is awakened
from the forest of meditation.
It was summer.

It was only a few moments past the sun’s rising,
which meant that the whole long sweet day
lay before them.

They greeted each other,
rumpling their gowns, for an instant,
and then smoothing them.

They entered the water,
and two more herons–
equally as beautiful–

joined them and stood just beneath them
in the black, polished water
where they fished, all day.