24 Frames Poetry Series: William Wenthe

Oct 5, 2017

Written by William Wenthe and read by John Poch

The drought summer the lake hung low.
Once-sunken stumps hugged
Their shadows, as we watched
A heron, across the water, articulate itself
In grave, measured strides, to where
A turtle slept on a log. The heron bowed
Its fluent neck, its clever beak
Nudged the turtle—slap into the lake!
IN the story I wanted to tell,
The turtle was me, the water
That unreadable depth I feared,
And the heron, the heron was love.

Something underwater we couldn’t see
Moved the heron
To thrust—a frantic foot-long fish
Speared on its beak. Lunging, splashing,
The heron bungled shoreward, flung the thing
On hard bus as if rejecting it,
Then batters, batting and flipping it till
The beak raised skyward—
Fish-head toward throat, fish-tail still writhing—
Then a kind of backwards vomit, swelling
The long gullet. We watched, and wore
Ourselves out with watching
The elegant wader reveal
An appetite so hideous—that heron,
That heron I had taken for love.