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.

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