On the rough river that runs behind
the house I live in now
a blue heron stalks.
He works without movement, one-legged, listening
master of balance, quick on the draw.
Don’t look him in the eye my daughter
says, freckles across her nose. He’ll swoop!
I wonder how she judged his gender.
She is already leaving me.
The bird attacks
drilling down in the muck piercing
the head of a small silver fish,
muddying the water with red blood.
Herons like things that glitter, she says.
Which of them does not?
I hold her hand tightly.
It’s time for bed.
That evening the heron has gone.
Water now fills the place where he stood.
All that is left of the battle is this:
Bloodied scales beneath the current
the silence that surrounds me
things our child is too young to know.
You loved me once like that: stoic, ruthless.
Eyes on the glittering prize.