Fishing in the Charles

A poem by William Doreski

Claw-footing stone to stone
in shallows, indifferent
to runners, dog-walkers, us,
a great blue heron rummages
for fish for a midday snack.

As we watch, it spears and scissors
a perch, hoists and swallows it
in a long undulant gesture
of unfolded neck. Hardly
a ripple marks the site. The staid

geometry of MIT
across the river looks aghast,
but it always does. Behind us,
the Prudential Center towers
prop themselves against the clouds.

Such an urban frame to feature
such a primal event. We nod
to acknowledge the heron’s skill,
its adaptive style, the S-bend
of neck, prehensile stick-legs

that hardly seem to part water,
the wings folded like tissue.
This heron grace punctuates
with diacritical urgency,
but almost no one has noticed

the uncommon sighting,
and only we have paused to note
how easily that fish went down,
and consider how bottomless
the place it now inhabits.

William Doreski’s work has appeared in various online and print journals and in several collections, most recently The Suburbs of Atlantis. (AA Press, 2013.)


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