A Quarterly Journal of Contemporary English Language Haibun
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June 2007, vol 3 no 2

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Jeffrey Woodward

Time with the Heron

The angler will do well to put his fly-rod aside for a time and forget the alluring ritual of the to-and-fro rhythm of a cast, to sit on a shaded bank beneath an inviting willow, to watch the water slur over a sandy shallow or ruffle on a rift in the rock.

Time will allow one to study the blue heron not far from the willow's shadow, to learn the skill that is his by concentrated patience and poise. The heron stalks his prey upon stilts and parallel to the bank --- stepping lightly now, pausing here, pausing there --- with a lazy deliberation given only to one for whom time has no meaning. Even the heron's cautious movements muddy the water. Even he, for a time, adopts the stillness of a statue.

Time will allow one to repeat the exotically poetic names of the hand tied flies --- Blue Quill, Royal Coachman, Pale Evening Dun, Muddler Minnow, Yellow Sally, Gray Hackle --- until the syllables become a meaningless babble, having only their own inherent musical properties, like the voice of the water before the first man came.

Time will allow the angler, also, to fix his eyes upon the bewilderingmaze of light everywhere at play with the water or to gaze, without ease of penetration, at the muddy trail a heron makes.

when the water clears,
the mind, also, of
a great blue heron