This Poem was Submitted By: Joanne M Uppendahl On Date: 2004-11-15 14:50:44 . . . Click Here To Mail this Poem to a Friend!

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Great Blue Heron Sighting

Seen from the train blue herons on the pilings-- each limbless stub of water tree contains a stationary bird. Except for one, who arches his stilt of neck, turns his brushstroke head as the scene passes by my view. “But me! But me!” he seems to say, extending his painted wings  as if he might embrace my fleeting face through the glass.

Copyright © November 2004 Joanne M Uppendahl

This Poem was Critiqued By: Wanda S. Thibodeaux On Date: 2004-12-03 02:45:01
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 10.00000
Dear Joanne, It is your true oneness with nature that sees these wonders, "his stilt of neck, his brushstroke head, his painted wings" postured in King and Queen fashion on "limbless stub of water tree." I love to ride the coast line and watch the Snowy Egrets and Little Blue Herons. Egrets are everywhere in the beautiful swamplands and along the coast. It is such a gracious talent that can take this momentary glimpse of nature, transferring in onto paper as the miraculous piece of art it is, using only the poetics of language. You have a kindred spirit you know, in John James Audubon. His prints/artworks are world renowned, because he saw the beauty and transferred it into an art that will never be lost. I believe your nature poems could be taken to that level also. Your themes will always separate in my mind anyway from other poetry on the site because they are selfless, do not offer opinions, your work is so beautiful because you are aware of that freedom, that peace, you have found for yourself in writing about the almost chilling beauty GOD has given us In this way you are praising Him, A lovely and unique gesture. That is my take. Hope you understand what I am saying. I truly admire you and quite a few others on this site. I have never given great critiques, but I am a positive person, and I don't read for errors or rewrites, I search for the core of the poem. I don't offer technical advise, poetry is more than words, it is the poet. I would love to study poetry as you have are as you are doing at present. I do not have the time now but someday, writing will be my priority, it has always been my dream. My goals are set high, as yours are. At present, my book comes first. Much love, best wishes always, Wanda

This Poem was Critiqued By: Elaine Marie Phalen On Date: 2004-12-02 22:38:57
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 10.00000
Joanne, this bird is a revelation. He shows us that, even among the faceless and anonymous crowds through which we move as we go about our daily business, there's room for individuality. We may not notice that, but it's present within us all. Each being is special, possessed of its own aura, its own destiny. Every now and then, something will happen that allows us to recognize these attributes, like the outspreading wings of the heron. This is very much in-the-moment, a Zen experience in which the speaker's entire focus is on the bird, the movement that reaches out to her, the sudden sense of connection between them. Human and bird are parts of the same larger whole. Yet it is not the stationary birds or humans who mater most to the universe; it's the ones who are willing to expend energy, be attentive, move forward. "Do I dare/disturb the universe?" Prufrock muses, and then doesn't do it. The heron dares and the speaker - by acknowledging his effect on her - dares, too. Some might scoff at any sort of link between human and avian, but you do not, nor can anyone who reads with insight. Seen from the train blue herons on the pilings-- each limbless stub of water tree contains a stationary bird. The "limbless stubs" are adorned only by a single creature. They're quiet, frozen in the seconds it takes the train to pass. They have no dimension, no evidence of animation - they, too, are "limbless" and static. That's probably how we view most passersby. We don't enter their minds, share their lives, care who they are, nor do they wonder much about us. They decorate the world by being there, and we'd notice them only if they were suddenly absent. Except for one, who arches his stilt of neck, turns his brushstroke head as the scene passes by my view. "Stilt of neck" is a neat sort of oxymoron (since stilts are usually on the bottom end, and more usually would be the legs!); "brushstroke head" is wonderful and makes me think of a Japanese painting. This one bird is establishing a karmic connection. He may represent more than a heron; the speaker may be investing, in him, a quality of someone from her own species. Is there a message in this solitary bird? I'd like to think so. Birds have traditionally been viewed as emissaries from spiritual realms. That this particular one turns to single her out is significant, I think. Some Native American legends explain that the spirits of dead wise men return to earth in the bodies of herons. “But me! But me!” he seems to say, extending his painted wings as if he might embrace my fleeting face through the glass. The "painted wings" offer a sense of pattern and color although we aren't specifically told what these include. However, we do know that they would be blue, which in itself is the hue of the fifth chakra, that brings peace and rest. It may not be a coincidence that this chakra is associated with the throat, since a heron's most striking physical feature is his sinuous neck, when viewed in silhouette. The color blue is itself connected with the Flood legend and the idea of purification. So is the speaker given an opportunity for enlightenment? Does she, in fact, acquire insight or wisdom through her own powers of observation? Herons are also eaters of reptilian or amphibians prey, which often suggests something unclean or sinful in metaphorical terms. Again, there's a purification aspect here. "My fleeting face" reveals the transitory nature of human existence. This tells us that mortality is part of the package, and if we rush headlong toward the end of our allotment, we'll miss the embrace of anything beautiful or wondrous. The rhyme of embrace/face is not accidental; bird and woman are joined, the perceiver and the perceived. (But which is which in this case?). We see "through a glass, darkly" and lack full understanding. A flash, and the scene changes. It can't be revisited or replayed, because the two parties to it have moved apart already, along their own life paths. Anyway, there are depths below the surface, like contours under water. Both heron and poem operate as signals that we need to be intuitive and this will make us accepting of whatever we are offered by the forces around us. I personally find this a very uplifting, reassuring piece. Herons are among my favorite birds and I saw my last one of the season not many weeks ago. In spring, they will return to the river across from my house and I'll enjoy their grace (but not, perhaps, their unmelodious croaking!). They will probably also remind me of larger issues that I need to address. Excellent work, of course. This one is special! Brenda
This Poem was Critiqued By: Rachel F. Spinoza On Date: 2004-12-02 10:39:34
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 10.00000
What a wonderful vision, Joanne Seen from the train This changes perspective as later there is a narrator's "I" [eye] but if you like the sound of the passive voice perhaps you could change it to Scene from the train to sort of frame it for us - or would that be too terrible a pun? blue herons on the pilings-- each limbless stub of water tree contains a stationary bird. wonderful - almost an haiku Except for one, who arches his stilt of neck, [lovely] turns his brushstroke head I can see the bird clearly - but not where it is - if it is not on a piling is it in the shallow water? On on the beach? as the scene passes by my view. [i don't think you need this line] interesting - the scene passes - rather than as "I" pass the scene! The point of vision is external whihc makes it even more theatrical a moment “But me! But me!” he seems to say, perhaps something like he "pleads" orI am not sure you need "seems to" if use a less specific word than "says" extending his painted wings as if he might embrace my fleeting face through the glass. embrace/face/glass -- lovely best, Rach
This Poem was Critiqued By: charles r pitts On Date: 2004-11-30 10:45:48
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 1.00000
My prolonged absence from here has starved my once hearty, robust lobes to rail-thin, famished folds. Its thirst for sustenance drove me back to this veritable smorgasboard for the mind. There were many tempting creations for my ingestion, yet I searched for your dish among the table of entrees. I had not a moment to lose you see as my famished, frail noodle had begun preparing to dine on its on folds, a sort of self-cannibalization I suppose. My desperation grew along with my diminishing strength until finally, at the far end of the table, my gaze settled on that which I so desired. You were there, and driven by my thirst, I stumbled toward your verbal oasis. As I drank deeply from your reservoir, I was reminded of the beautiful, the strange, the quiet moments of my own I have had throughout my travels, the moments that inspire poetry and self-reflection, and remembered the painful joy I felt that I alone was there to see and think, but with no one to share. With each bite I took, not only could I taste each individual ingredient, but I was there in the kitchen watching the preparations. May I have your recipe? This was truly beautiful. The picture you painted was more a mirror, and in it I saw me, catching a moment in time and making it mine. I also felt a hint of sadness, like the beauty of that moment was only temporary.
This Poem was Critiqued By: James Edward Schanne On Date: 2004-11-29 13:51:38
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 9.50000
this reminds me of when I was about ten, that summer a blue heron made its summer home at a pond near our home. I would go watch it for the longest time, but after it left in the fall it never came back again except of course in my memories, thanks for bringing that memory back to me.
This Poem was Critiqued By: Turner Lee Williams On Date: 2004-11-23 03:23:18
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 10.00000
Joanne–No nature scene seem to escape your poetic eye and pen, especially those involving our winged friends-smile: the plain straight forward language creates vivid and picturesque imagery of this graceful indigenous fowl. IMO, a set of obvious personification twists (“But me!” But me!” & embrace) aptly serve to enhance the visuals in reader(s) mind’s eye: these detailed descriptors allow reader(s) to observe lifelike images/scenes from the same transport; same window; and experience poignant emotions of scribe. This piece is just my style: terse/concise and smacks of realism. Another enjoyable read from The Bird Lady of TPL. Thanks. TLW
This Poem was Critiqued By: Jennifer j Hill On Date: 2004-11-15 23:12:19
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 1.00000
Joanne, You just brought back a memory for me! About ten years ago I was riding down to the lake with my sister on one our yearly trips we used to take. I looked out the window of her Bronco in time to see a blue heron flying right beside us, close enough I thought I could reach out and touch it and in that moment that it caught my eye, it was as if the heron was trying to comunicate with me. It was the most fantastic feeling and I hadn't thought of it in years 'til you reminded me. What a cool siting.You saw more then one blue heron. I don't know how many times I have strained my neck trying to see if a bird I've caught a glimpse of is a heron or not since that siting I had. They are the most fascinating birds, with their long necks and colorful wings. You captured the true essence of the blue heron in your poem. But again, I get ahead of myself because of my excitement. First, I find the sibilant "S" sounds here to be like a whispering of a special secret. A secret meeting of the minds , so to speak. This poem is ripe with their musical harmonic sound. Your image wows me, as I picture these graceful creatures perched on tree stumps above the water, no doubt watching for fish to fill their tummies. Then as if it weren't enough to give us this lovely still life image, you go one better. You give us the visual of the sleek heron stretching it's neck (and then wings) out for flight. What a beautiful cerature with such vivid color differentiation from head to end of wings, the grey, blue , darker blue and white markings look perfectly painted on. It's like a frozen moment in time, a freeze frame memory forever engrained on your mind. Just a moment and it's gone from sight but not from mind. I love the build up to the climactic end where the beauty of God's creation embraces you as if trying to give a message that was meant only for your eyes and ears alone. Yet it can be shared in this poem by all who read and understand. Thanks for the experience and the reminder. I feel blessed to have read this one. Best, Jennifer
This Poem was Critiqued By: Tony P Spicuglia On Date: 2004-11-15 19:52:42
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 9.90000
Oh Joane, "but me, but me",.. everyone but me, how heartrending, heartcatching,... the total embrace of the moment, this is about herons, but this is about us all. So short and yet so exhilerating. First of all, I have a tremendous love of trains, not necessarily the trains in America, we are just too in love with the auto to know trains, but I have traveled in "real" trains all over, watching the world both in and out, from my seat of honor. I look out that window with you. You said in you critique to me you are in the North west, so I assume the pilings are from logging, at any rate, I can see these herons, and they hold a special place in my heart, because once, unthinking, I was heartless to one. I was fishing in Cuba, Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, and a heron landed not far from where I was fishing. I don't know why, but I picked up a big rock to scare it away, and broke it's leg. I felt more helpless than the heron, and oddly, since that time, I don't even step on ants. Your description "brushstroke heads" is brilliant, a wonderful moment in the verse. A painting to be had in the movement of the head, or just because, excellent. How much of humanity is in the extension of those wings, watching and saying, "here am I?" Joanne this is a good a piece as I have ever read from you. Such a pleasure to read. I think this must be bird week, because I can't get over the mockingbird either. Thanks for sharing.
This Poem was Critiqued By: Dellena Rovito On Date: 2004-11-15 17:51:13
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 10.00000
Joanne, I feel like trains are in the air. I'm in the seat nearby seeing your view... The bird might just embrace your fleeting face. [because you felt his thought] You seem to have an affinity to the birdlife. They well could be your power' animals. An ally if you wish... Nice sweet poem coming from one the same. But me, but me..... I'm moving on down the track... love to you dellena
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