After Learning of a Friend’s Suicide, We Drive to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park

In trees along the Bath Road rookery,
a siege of herons broods. Their long necks kink.
Their nests clump bare branches like flood debris.
Settling with a click in icy muck,
gray-bearded and imposing, a male impales
the air with his spiked face, snapping stems
of reeds, but wades so slowly he hardly ripples
the surface of the pond. The water steams.

We’ve never seen one so close up before—
head cocked to scan the tributary bank
with one eye toward the sky, one toward the river.
Into his own reflection, he dips his bill
and snags a frog or fish he chokes down whole,
granting us permission not to speak.

Brian Brodeur is the author of the poetry collections, Natural Causes and Other Latitudes, as well as the poetry chapbooks, Local Fauna and So the Night Cannot Go on Without Us. New poems, essays, and interviews have been published or are forthcoming in American Poetry Review, Best American Poetry (online), Measure, The Missouri Review, 32 Poems, River Styx, The Southern Review, and The Writer’s Chronicle.
*Photo courtesy of Rodney Campbell.
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