Poetry of Love, Resistance, & Solidarity

When the eleven egrets roseSheldonPic

over the river bend, green shrubs

even a droughty river holds—

just as the flock had a week before,

right before he saw the small Washita,

a white triangle in the pea gravel—

he might have, had he believed

in omens, egret deities, or other magic,

thought himself lucky, looked

for another point, that moment,

at his feet. Instead, he was only

gladdened. All day he saw

gravel and minnows, light

on the water. Only later,

moving back upriver,

did he indulge his foolishness,

cursing, almost aloud, the day’s

heat, the barrenness of the river.

He saw again the ungainly grace

of wading egrets lifting in late

afternoon’s sallow light. Their blessing

had been real. “Walk slowly, look hard

in the small gravel. Move on.”

~ William Sheldon

William Sheldon lives with his family in Hutchinson, Kansas. His poetry and prose have appeared widely in small press publications. He is the author of three collections of poetry, Retrieving Old Bones (Woodley, 2002), Into Distant Grass (Oil Hill Press, 2009), and Rain Comes Riding (Mammoth, 2011).

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Comments on: "Hunting Arrowheads on the Arkansas by William Sheldon" (4)

  1. Patricia Traxler said:

    Superb, Bill. I love its quiet power.

  2. Tim pettet said:

    I have often wondered what primeval message herons carry.

  3. Aren’t we lucky to have so many very fine poets in Kansas and the Kansas City area.
    Thanks Bill, not just for this beautiful poem (from a poet who knows his wildlife), but for all your work.

  4. Lovely. Reminds me of my dad who walked creed beks, and plowed fields and collected arrow heads, mastodon teeth, and other wonders. “Look,” he’d tell me. “It’s right there in that gravel.” I am finally beginning to learn how to see.

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