Circling an Embrace
   by Adrian Magnuson
       (written for my mother-in-law, Edith Mackaman,
         who had a lifelong passion for herons,
          on the occasion of her memorial service)

The bright-eyed heron
who has fed along our shores,
stands now alone on new ice,
forming beneath her feet.

The time has come for her to leave us, but
still she remains, watching.
Yesterday’s thin sun is today’s soft snow, yet
still she remains, waiting.

For what sign does she wait, we wonder.
She can no longer feed here.  It’s the ice,
you know, thickening under her feet.  And it’s
the warm glass, that keeps us from following.

All that remains is our shared
vigil.  Five days, waiting,
till she cocks her head toward us, holds
our gaze for a moment,

then turns her face
skyward to three of her kind,
angling south.

They wheel above,
circling an embrace, beckoning.  
She tries her wings, once, twice,
then lifts to join them.

Whenever I see a heron,
I will think of Edith.