The Monk

The heron in the cool morning mist
huddles beneath the oak by the lake,
like a monk with head bowed low betwixt
his gray wings while the sleepy woods wake.
He blends with the shadows on the shoals,
as unmoving as dawn’s torpid air,
while sunlight burns on the distant knolls;
the hermit stands like a statue there.
What does he read in that quiet lake
that scholar of mist-spun solitude?
What does he read in the mirrored make
of water while in his pensive mood?
Stoic, soundless, solitary soul,
what is the bounty behind his eyes?
He does not blink as the white mists roll
like tumbling smoke into gilded skies.
Perhaps he sees the leaves of the oak
ablaze with the futile hues of Fall,
painted gently with a master’s stroke:
light on water, water holding all.
Or maybe he sees himself therein,
pondering his beak, his crest, his wing,
like a Buddhist monk mesmerized when
staring at his navel’s spiral ring.
A soothing gray silhouette, he waits,
an anchorite heron by the lake;
silent and still, in between those states
such as when we dream and when we wake.

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