Egrets

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Photo ©Felix Uribe1600px-Bubulcus_ibis_Garcita_bueyera_Cattle_Egret_(6549249775)

Up in the field behind the plough
that chops and churns the heavy clay,
the egrets flock, a snowy storm,
bird-blizzard, feathered phantoms walk.
Heron-tall, but not so still,
they stalk, stork-white amid the clods
and stand like sentinels in white,
beneath the sky so burning bright.

Slow-flapping wings where tractor plies,
this autumn ploughing, out of time,
the crisp air, leaf-fall, hawthorn red,
is just a wish, a memory
of other times when ploughs would climb
the hill amid a cloud of crows,
so long ago, another world,
I scarce recall how north wind blows.

Here where pink hibiscus blooms
and regal purple, roses climb
where lizards fly like dragon birds,
and dragonflies skim swallow light,
I count the egrets on the hill,
the snow white birds beneath the sun
and wonder if white grace will run
in feathered streams when summer’s done.

Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

47 thoughts on “Egrets”

  1. I love this especially; “Here where pink hibiscus blooms and regal purple, roses climb
    where lizards fly like dragon birds, and dragonflies skim swallow light, I count the egrets on the hill, the snow white birds beneath the sun.” 💝

  2. Remarkable work, yet again. You utilize nature to create this beautiful scene, especially in these lines:

    “the crisp air, leaf-fall, hawthorn red,
    is just a wish, a memory
    of other times when ploughs would climb
    the hill amid a cloud of crows…”

    Amazing, and it is truly capturing.

  3. A truly vocal and majestic lyricism to this, Jane – illustrated no better than in your final lines: “I… wonder if white grace will run
    in feathered streams when summer’s done.” Brilliant!
    On a more humorous note, when I first snatched a look at the title of the poem, I mistook it to be ‘Regrets’!
    So, as the frustrated bird catcher might well have said: ‘Egrets I’ve had a few, but then again too few to mention!!” Hey! Ho! Hope someone else finds that as amusing as I do…

  4. Beautiful poem, Jane! Absolutely breathtaking. I am delighted by the imagery of dragonflies, white grace and feathered streams dancing in my head.

  5. You paint a wonderful picture of birds following the plow! A great site to watch. Very well done.
    and wonder if white grace will run
    in feathered streams when summer’s done.

    Do your egrets migrate?

  6. Just lovely Jane – the rhyme works beautifully to evoke the formality of these birds – and the timelessness of a poet watching. ‘heron-tall but not so still’ is an acute line that sharpens image beautifully. I could just go on…

    1. I’m glad you like it, Peter. Sometimes the thoughts/images flow in a rhythm. You’re right, it does suit the stately way these birds even en masse and hunting carry some stillness about them

  7. A delightful poem: I love the rhythm and the flow of it. I hope the egrets get to fly! Also I hope to hear you next time at the ‘open mic night’ 🙂

    1. Thank you!
      The egrets fly from one site to another. When this field is ploughed, they’ll follow the tractor to another field.
      I only wanted to listen to the rest of you but since you couldn’t see me or hear me I felt like a stalker!

      1. Nobody was reading when I looked in and I had to leave shortly afterwards anyway. We have an evening ritual that starts around 10pm of taking the dog out for a walk, catching the cats, feeding them, getting them rounded up into their sleeping area, getting the dog settled, then it’s our turn.

      2. The cats can be difficult as they think they want to be out at night. By about three o’clock they want to come in though. Or I lie awake worrying what’s going to eat them if they don’t.

  8. This poem is so visual, Jane, I closed my eyes and the images were still there! I love the sound of the plough in ‘chops and churns the heavy clay’ and the way you describe the egrets flocking in a ‘bird-blizzard’. I also love the comparison of your current view with a past landscape through snowy egrets and a cloud of crows, the out of time ploughing, and the memory of ‘crisp air, leaf-fall, hawthorn red’. So different to pink hibiscus blooms and lizards like dragon birds.

  9. I love this one! The images you create, and the rhythm and flow are just so lovely. That last stanza with just a touch of longing is just wonderful.
    I just heard some weird animal sound from my bakcyard–not sure if it was a bird or something else, and it’s still dark, so I can’ t see anything from the kitchen window . . .no snowy egrets though. 😀

  10. Had to check out the migratory habits of French cattle egrets, Jane: “Cattle Egrets are partially migratory in Europe, with some birds remaining in southern France and southern Spain while others move to North Africa. ” So guess you won’t be sending me any messages by passenger egrets! How did you end up living in France? You write so proficiently in English that I take it you aren’t French.

    1. I’m Irish. We migrate 🙂 My parents migrated to England when I was a baby but we never felt much attachment to it. I left when I finished at university and have moved around France ever since.

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