A Cast Heron

A bronze bird, this heron belonged to my mother. 
It frowned at me from behind the lamp, 
the line of the eye slanting down to its long beak.
On my lap, its tail of three feathers dig into the soft of my hand. 
Clawed feet poke my leg.
It has never been a comfortable bird. 
Its cast metal feet teeter and make it crash,
but the artisan has taken care to make the feathers flow
over the curve of its body, stylized yet right for the breed.
Its legs curve, limber and strong, as if it could push off into flight.

Wiping the dust from its side, I find a tiny feather, 
cobweb light and grey, a magical thing,
as if this bird were trying to be more fully bird. 
My breath blows it away.

It’s a reminder of the heron we see from our living room window,
one of a long lineage, on the neighbor’s dock for forty years.
My mother’s bird. Turning it over, I see with a small shock
her name. D.Webb, written with careless marker on the belly.
The label must be from the nursing home, from her last days.
So much lost in the fog of time. It is old enough for white corrosion
where the solder joins the legs to the hollow body
and in spots between the wings on the back.

So like my mother—awkward and difficult but with her own beauty.
I run my handkerchief along the back. 
It feels like petting a cat.

—Sarah Webb

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