Between the headlands, slants like a poised spear
Invisible in the driftwood where I peer --
And there he goes now, fl apping off alone.
Later his shape breaks out of some gray stone
That the low tides leave bare this time of year,
Then further down, in deeper dusk, lifts clear
Where only a black tangle of kelp had shown.
Then over by the cliff s, in the near dark there,
I see a heron shape become a girl
Hunched with her trouble there on the driftwood.
The shore a place of human bad and good,
Not herons now, so stony stark her stare
At the late red fading from a cloud-swirl.
Far up the beach, the waves withdrawing show
Light rustling in the grit, the plovers throw
Shadows appearing solider than they,
And the young heron that lives here fl aps away
And alights up ahead in the backfl ow
That glares more silver as it slips below
The nubs of the bright foam, the sunny spray,
While the grebe I come on has been lying dead,
At the water's edge, on his back. His wings are spread
As if in fl ight. He looks heraldic, too --
Like the scrawny phoenix D.H. Lawrence drew.
But this bird's missing an eye; draggled and sad
Lies here for a little the only self he had.