By: Danusha Laméris
I see the word egret, but read, instead,
regret. A trick of the mind. Its reversals. One,
a white slash, rising from the marsh. The other
a stone, strapped to the heart. The way I’ve carried
all the would-haves, all the ifs. Each alternate
exhausts. The egret wades in the dark water,
seeking fish. The heart, constancy. I doubt the egret
has regrets. Hatch, fledge, breed, hunt.
And besides, a lovely name that comes from French.
“Aigrette,” for brush, after the long feathers
that stream down its back. How do its legs,
bent reversed, move ahead? Who wouldn’t want
to walk like that? There are days I step
outside my body, arise, fly over the field
of my life, and glimpse—not error—but river,
rock, and oak, a wide expanse. Here and there
a meadow, dry grass dotted with—could
they be poppies?—some bright-blurred, orange flame.
Danusha Laméris is the author of The Moons of August (Autumn House, 2014), and Bonfire Opera (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2020). Her poems have been published in The Best American Poetry, The New York Times, The American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, and Prairie Schooner. The recipient of the 2020 Lucille Clifton Legacy Award, Laméris teaches poetry independently, and she was the 2018-2020 Poet Laureate of Santa Cruz County, California.