While the summer's growth kept me
anxious in planted rows, I forgot the river
where it flowed, faithful to its way,
beneath the slope where my household
has taken its laborious stand.
I could not reach it even in dreams.
But one morning at the summer's end
I remember it again, as though its being
lifts into mind in undeniable flood,
and I carry my boat down through the fog,
over the rocks, and set out.
I go easy and silent, and the warblers
appear among the leaves of the willows,
their flight like gold thread
quick in the live tapestry of the leaves.
And I go on until I see, crouched
on a dead branch sticking out of the water,
a heron—so still that I believe
he is a bit of drift hung dead above the water.
And then I see the articulation of feather
and living eye, a brilliance I receive
beyond my power to make, as he
receives in his great patience
the river's providence. And then I see
that I am seen. Still as I keep,
I might be a tree for all the fear he shows.
Suddenly I know I have passed across
to a shore where I do not live.