Dusk in Dupont Circle
Martha Young, 2019 BLR Poetry Prize Honorable Mention
A wingspan so wide it soared beyond the sidewalk
like a small plane. I turned, I had to turn, find where it landed,
a wader, crested, long-billed, short-legged.
It was dark by now, a crowd had come to watch
the heron standing in a patch of weeds and butts,
a sculpted thing, a bronze, its head plumes almost
Corinthian. Slowly it lifted each blade-thin leg
and then with one swift thrust, cracked its bill,
snatched a bulging rat it chugged down whole.
“It’s heavy,” you cried, heaving yourself up, pushing
out your arms to stop the fluid from filling your lungs.
I could touch you when you died—toes, earlobes,
soft fringe of hair at the nape of your neck. I could hold
your hand as it turned to parchment, then to gold.