The Sound I Am After

by Molly McGrath

A great blue heron
flies out between
earth and sky.
Slow, deep wing beats
send him down
river to me.
He arrived before us
And will be here
when we are gone.

The heron
streamlined and graceful
lands on a rock and waits
perhaps for a fish
or just to be.
The heron is almost beautiful
becoming so
when he croaks, rohk, rohk,
a prehistoric utterance.

That voice brings me to this one.
I am cornered
in a rushed pulse
between classes,
softened when
Michael speaks poems to me
in altered time and space
and asks about
Bananafish.

Steeped in warm, rich coffee,
his voice
is the sound I am after,
the slow beat of
his laugh covered in wood shavings.
Is there a better voice pairing
poet and carpenter
to deliver the engraved rhythms
of writing and carving?

Strong steady hands
Warm and slow
and masculine as lead and root
work words and wood.

Words and wood live at home
in his voice,
a mellow river
flowing on always
under a heron’s song.