Through the Heron Door
by Jack H. Marr
1. The heron is silence by the frozen pool. The heron is patience. It is the wide-gaping beak, the crane bag spilling letters. The heron is water all together and at one time sky in sequence land: great downbeat of wings and neck outstretched. Too still to see, his shadow a hunter. The heron is a woman. The heron is a coat feathers wrapping skin side warm for the dance, the long dance, the circling dance around and back again: the heron is the long gyre north to south along the river's path; This heron goes. That heron stays. 2. The heron is an old, old man standing on one leg and a king waiting wounded in the wasteland of the fens for the right question. 3. The Heron Men are silent men. They do not say all that they know but their cry is harsh and lonely. The bittern is their cousin, outcast and booming. When they gather the sky is dark wheeling wings, a gathering of pterodons blackening the air. They gather rarely. Their heronries are few. The Heron Men are secret-keepers wisdom-keepers and sometimes liars. (Look into a heron's eye: would you trust it?) They are made for mist for water-margins and for endless skies they stand webfoot in the mud watching the fish-shadows and though the people say: there is a heron, voices hushed, they do not see the man behind. 4. The king is passing. The Heron House is closed but for the north door which only the dead come through. No more the smear of blood on faces, smoke, old men in the dark gathering; young men learning to walk and to wait. On its island in the lake circle-perfect as the moon: the Heron House, the lake ice-matte-white or lapping at the walkway — the first path, pilings and planks long sunk. (It does not lead to the north door.) 5. The north door will open You will go where the dead go. There is a dark mystery there the heron oh: the heron and his flight. Patience: it has only just begun. The shadow of a wing falls over your sleep The heron the heron is coming for you to bring you to the lodge where the soft-sharp stubs of your feathers will start to poke, prickly-familiar through your safe human skin once more.
Jack Hollis Marr is an Englishman living rather bewilderedly in Montreal, where he finds the city amazing and the weather fantastical, and where he has just started writing again after a gap of several years. His favourite fruit is the satsuma, which is almost impossible to obtain in Quebec and is therefore taking on an almost mythical quality for him.
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