Opened Wings

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Night Herons

by Mary Oliver  

Some herons were fishing in the robes of the night

At a low hour of the water’s body,

And the fish I suppose, were full

Of fish happiness in those transparent inches

Even as, over and over, the beaks jacked down

And the narrow bodies were lifted

With every quick sally,

And that was the end of them as far as we know-

Though, what do we know except that death

Is so everywhere and so entire-

Pummeling and felling,

Or sometimes,

Like this, appearing

Through such a thin door-

One stab and you’re through!

And what then?

Why, then it was almost morning,

And one by one the birds opened their wings and flew.

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