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heron song
by Roxanne Amico 
Monday, November 22, 2010

I wrote this during a period of feeling acutely overwhelmed with too much on my plate. I wrote my way out of that (for a little while ;-)


Heron Song

by Roxanne Amico

Tues., 12 Oct., 2010

I’m sitting at my desk in the sun. The sun is warming and calming me.

Behind me, my electric heater is on, and that gives me a chilling anxiety, because I am afraid of my electric bills this coming winter.

But for now, I’d rather concentrate on how good I feel to sit with the sun on this page.

Next to me is a list of things I need to get done. My heart beats faster just to think of this list. There are too many things on it. I don’t want it. It makes me sad, because in front of me, still, is the sun….How long can the sun wait?

…Is that even the right question?

No. How long will the sun shine on this spot, on this day, while I am here, at my desk, at this time?


Besides the electric heater behind me, besides the list of things to do right next to me, there’s a photo here. There’s a photo of a black-crowned night heron, standing in a toxic stew of e-coli and industrial waste. Her red eye looks into the distance, almost at the viewer of the photo, as she stands over an empty rum bottle, the glass sharply bouncing reflective light into my eye. The trashed-up creek in which she stands insults her elegant grace.

Behind me is an electric heater that makes me anxious about what’s ahead.

Behind her is a toxified green world; less-than-green with every look from her darting-eye food searches.

Next to me is a list that threatens to seize my breath in mid-flight; a list that makes me want to cry, because the sun moves faster than me and my pen checking off the items on the list; but not faster, it seems, than the poisons destroying her home.

Next to her is more than trash. All of it is coated with mud. All the mud is laced with sewage. All the sewage is infused with heavy metals and other stuff that belongs deep in the earth, not on her food, not on her eggs, not in her nest…

On my list are reminders to mop my stairway and finish the laundry and finish the notes for my taxes for my accountant and call the hardware store about supplies for my jobs and call three clients and research my auto insurance and call my auto mechanic and plan my workload calendar through the holidays, because I don’t want to get slammed with more stress when the holidays come (even though I know I will, because that’s just the way the holidays are) and write up those money orders to pay those invoices and bills and write the notes from the recent meetings and clean the kitchen sink and plan…Tomorrow.

I don’t know if the sun will shine tomorrow. I know it’s shining now. I’m still sitting in the sun at my desk, trying to refrain from thinking about the heater behind me, and the list next to me. I look at the list, and take a small deep breath when I realize…that I did remember, at least, to water the plants this week.

On her list, the black-crowned night heron, is, “Forage. Feed the children. Eat. Move in the direction of the sun. Breathe. Find a mate…(or nuzzle the mate already found…)

I want her list. Not the specifics, but the elegance. The simplicity. …The lack of a need for a list and lack of need to remind herself to breathe.


In the absence of the option of having her list, I want what I have.

What I have is an elegant night-heron muse with a black crown. Sometimes she’s an Osprey. Sometimes she’s great and she’s blue and she’s vibrant, even when she stands still in the sun…other times she’s a hawk, alert guardian hunter.

In all these forms, my personal experiences mean nothing to her. She can hear my fears, my rages, my grief. The reason she can hear them is because she has her own.

Next to my fear of not being able to pay my bills this winter……Are her fears of whether she and her children will be able to find food.

Next to my rages about not having enough time to feel the sun and hear the birds……Are her daily rages about how the e-coli putrefies her food.

Next to my whining about having too much to do……Are her cries to her missing children when her home is razed year after year.


She knows my fear and rages…And I know my own triumphs and successes never assuage her cries, her fears, her rages, since my triumphs and successes never change the facts of her life.?

-Roxanne Amico

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