“The Bittern at Abbott’s Lagoon” by John O’Reilly

John O’Reilly


the walk to the sea belongs to the sea
we are drawn on as waves are
the late light is sidelong
a glance at a party
passed from one guest to the next

few have binoculars out for the bittern
on the other side of the lagoon
the walk pauses where those
who’ve been shown it show it to others
like a face in a tortilla

for some time we forget about the ocean
all of us eyeing this cryptic bird
which deems itself invisible
as we deem ourselves while exposed

soon darkness will sidle down
brought to the hem of the Pacific
that the bittern might recede
into invisibility amid the reeds
there upon its hunting ground
a shy and terrible god like ours

from Rattle #36, Winter 2011


John O’Reilly: “Lorca said he wrote poetry because he wanted people to like him. For a long time, I was charmed by his candor. I’ve come to think of it as poetic candor, with a riddle inside. I write in part to solve that riddle, while I paper the door of my refrigerator.”

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