Memories of Mary~

(These herons were photographed in South America and South Africa).

“So heavy
is the long-necked, long-bodied heron,
always it is a surprise
when her smoke-colored wings

and she turns
from the thick water,
from the black sticks

of the summer pond,
and slowly
rises into the air
and is gone.

Then, not for the first or the last time,
I take the deep breath
of happiness, and I think
how unlikely it is

that death is a hole in the ground,
how improbable
that ascension is not possible,
though everything seems so inert, so nailed

back into itself–
the muskrat and his lumpy lodge,
the turtle,
the fallen gate.

And especially it is wonderful
that the summers are long
and the ponds so dark and so many,
and therefore it isn’t a miracle

but the common thing,
this decision,
this trailing of the long legs in the water,
this opening up of the heavy body

into a new life: see how the sudden
gray-blue sheets of her wings
strive toward the wind; see how the clasp of nothing
takes her in.

Cheers to you from Mary Oliver’s Heavenly Herons~

Source: Heron Rises From The Dark, Summer Pond,  Mary Oliver.

219 thoughts on “Memories of Mary~

  1. One of my abiding memories of travelling through New England is the sheer numbers of herons we saw – thank you, Cindy, for these fabulous photos and a nudge to my reflections on a great trip ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. I know. It is incredible. And everything they do is in such slow motion which seems to defy the laws of everything. especially lift off. Love to you Maiko.

  2. Fabulous photography, Cindy, and matched so beautifully to the verse. It was a privilege to read. Thank you, and have a great week! ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. These photos are just gorgeous, a perfect pairing with Mary’s poem. She’s one of my favorites. Thank you, Cindy, for this gift of beauty today! โ™ฅ.

      1. Oh yes. I fell in love with Mary Oliver when I read that poem about โ€œ…your one wild precious lifeโ€ โ€” I forget the name of the poem. ๐Ÿ’•.

  4. Toujours des photos d’un piquรฉ exceptionnel. Excusez ma curiositรฉ mais quel est votre matรฉriel ? Encore bravo pour vos clichรฉs.

  5. A beautiful series of the various herons! Love the heron standing on the hippopotamus; I have a photo of a great blue marching over the backs of turtles as it stalked fish.

  6. I agree with John RH! You are a master photographer. The poetry of this struck a nerve. Somewhere in there is the phrase “see how the clasp of nothing” said these creatures fly no matter how large they are because they don’t have to haul their world with them. They don’t move from space to space with truckloads of stuff. I think it would be lovely to be that free to fly and fly that free. Thanks for this.

    1. Yes, the poem strikes such a chord with me too. “see how the clasp of nothing
      takes her in.” <3
      It speaks to me of how the unseen and mysterious can have great power. Mary was just brilliant.

    1. I took a series of photos at Sunset Dam in Kruger National Park of herons surfing on the back of hippos, and landing and taking off of them too. The hippos didn’t mind at all. It was hilarious!

  7. This poem could only have come from Mary Oliver! Such lovely photos to illustrate it, Cindy. I especially am mesmerized by these birds’ eyes and feathers!

  8. A wonderful collection. I like watching the ones on the beach patiently waiting โ€ฆ and designed for a quick strike. On the down side, I find their eyes to be a bit creepy.

    1. They remind me of dinosaurs. I had a Great Blue Heron on my doorstep a few years back. I walked by the door and saw it through the glass and the immediate thought that went through my mind was, “There’s dinosaur at the door!”

  9. Pingback: Memories of Mary~ โ€” (incredible photographs by Cindy Knoke…look at all of them) | Rethinking Life

  10. Where I live, the only heron that is at all blue is the bluish gray “great blue” heron.  (While it is indeed great, I dislike having the word in the name when there is no “little blue” heron.)  The blue heron’s flight is remarkable, but my fondest heron memory is of one so intent on foraging that my walking by a pond did not spook it into flight:

            *Swamp Colors*

                    Ignoring pink and
                    yellow lilies, blue heron
                    stabs and swallows fish.

    Too bad your eye and camera were not there.

    1. Everything you wrote here is pure poetry, with the added remarkableness of being completely true. I know of each bird you speak, and especially the little blue heron, but mostly you caught so perfectly, the intensiveness of heron concentration. It is beyond Zen. It is before Zen. These are old birds. Your heron was intent on hunting, but not so intent, that she was unable to recognize you were not a threat to her. Birds are mysterious this way. They seem to know. And you are remarkable for feeling this. Your poem captures this perfectly and beautifully. I wish I was there, so I could add my photos to your thoughts.

  11. Anonymous

    It looks both of them – hipo and heron, feel comfortable ๐Ÿ™‚.
    Thank you for introducing this interesting poem.

  12. How surprising to me that your title was “Memories of Mary,” when I wrote today about my sister Mary and her recommendation of John Osteen’s preaching. I almost felt a little off kilter. How I love your photography! I’m glad you found my site, so I could find yours.

  13. Hello Cindy!
    I know I already commented on this post, although I’m not sure from which blog; Art Gowns or GLAM. Anyway, I had about 10 days of my comments going into SPAM folders. First it was one, then 2, then everyone’s. Akismet wasn’t sure why, but they did something and said I should be fine going ahead, however what is in SPAM will stay there unless the blog host approves the comment.
    You might find me in your SPAM folder. LOL! Anyway, yesterday was okay for commenting, so let’s hope this comment works. Sheesh!

  14. Wow, Cindy. You’ve truly outdone yourself with this post. It is a gift, so thank you. Your prose is even more beautiful than your photos… if that’s possible. I love herons anyway. Hugs on the wings.

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