Two years ago, the former publisher and poet Michael Krüger of Hanser Verlag Munich came up with the idea that politicians should start their conferences with the reading of a poem. What a wonderful idea that is! And what a special way of opening horizons and setting a different tone at the beginnung of a meeting. So, what if an Environment Committee for example would listen to Jack Ridl’s poem THE HERON before the participants would debate the use of herbicides or decide frivolously the clearing of thousands and thousands of squaremiles of rainforest?
Whenever we noticed her
standing in the stream, still
as a branch in dead air, we
would grab our binoculars,
watch her watching,
her eye fixed on the water
slowly making its own way
around stumps, over a boulder,
under some leaves matted against
a fallen log. She seemed
to appear, stand, peer, then
lift one leg, stretch it, let
a foot quietly settle into the mud
then pull up her other foot, settle
it, and stare again, each step
tendered, an ideogram at the end
of a calligrapher’s brush.
Every time she arrived, we watched
until, as if she had suddenly heard
a call in the sky, she would bend
her knees, raise her wide wings,
and lift in the welcome grace
of the air, her legs extending
back behind her, wings rising
and falling elegant under the clouds.
For more than a week now
we have not seen her. We watch
the sky, hoping to catch her great
feathered cross moving above the trees.
Jack Ridl: practising to walk like LIKE A HERON. Wayne State University Press, Detroit. ISBN 978-0-8143-3453-9.
Jack Ridl is a true master of words. His poems are touching but never kitsch, full of insight, truth and compassion. Having a volume of his poetry in your pocket is like having a wise friend by your side. What more can you expect? You will find Jack Ridl’s blog here. You can buy Jack’s books in any friendly Independent Bookstore around the world. Remember, that’s where real people talk about books instead of clever algorithms.
Have a good time!