29 Jul

2014 Runner Up – Sharon Black

‘I have only this breath for my wings’
(David Whyte)

The heron’s body is awkward, an ancient
machine but in flight it has the grace
of breath itself, the slow full breath of deep sleep;
the blue sky opens to receive it,
the bird’s ash-grey belly almost skimming
aspen and beech as it makes its way upstream.

It has no interest in fish, no eye
on the glittering gibberish that filled its head
as it waded on arthritic legs through the shallows,
plunging its weapon with a twist
of head, a shivering arc of wings, the black trim
of its feathers like rank chevrons. Airborne

its span is languorous, hugging pillows of air
as we sit, knees to chest
round last night’s fire, wisps of smoke rising
from the charred stumps,
our attention soaring beyond sun-tipped pines
as our lungs fill, empty.

Sharon Black
St Andre de Valborgne, France