The Heron Knew What the Herring Did, Too

Jun 2, 2021 | 2021 Summer - Never Have I Ever, Poetry

By Anne Marie Wells

It was an odd story,
but also common, of a herring and a heron
meeting where air and waves greeted flotsam and jetsam.
The fish in awe of the bird’s span of wings, reeled under
the sheen of its dance, lured by its legs in the expanse
of salt water.

The heron no stronger
couldn’t help but wonder what it’d feel like
to play those scales that shined at sunrise like prisms, to learn
the right tempos and rhythms, to know the texture
under feather just sitting together like
a blind man knows every letter
in braille.

More truth set sail
through eyes than spoke on tongues. No longer young
or naive, the herring knew the heron could feast on its fins, pull the pin
bones from its beak, and never speak of the herring again.
A precarious leap. A bird and a fish can fall
keel over peak, but at the end of the day,
where would they
sleep?

Despite the appeal,
the herring stayed in the sea and the heron
stayed on the shore. Restraint lived their lives until
the moment they died, always having wanted,
but never having
more.

Anne Marie Wells (she/her) of Hoback Junction, Wyoming, is a queer poet, playwright, and storyteller navigating the world with a chronic illness.

Related Articles

This Bird on My Back

By Emilyn Kowaleski If someone would have told me years ago that I was staring at the girl in college with the raven tattooed across her back because, perhaps, I wanted her And less perhaps, because I wanted to be her I might not have this blue heron etched on my own...

read more

Substance

By Mycah Katz First it was an injection The nurse telling me she wanted to be part of my journey But the suicidal thoughts were like an anvil I couldn’t stop The gel was gentler sometimes my mind was calmer But every moment of anxiety became hours of anguish My body...

read more

Two Poems by Cel Sanel

Plant Baby Compost me I know you read the ingredients as you kissed my back and can judge accordingly Shovel me in little heaps and wrap me around a seed so I’ll mean something, my decay will be a service and I’ll use the oxygen that once emphasized how hard it was to...

read more