The Egret

In the evening after lying in bed sick all day,
I take to walking around my new neighborhood in Georgia.
It isn’t much of one, this bedroom community
in Savannah’s south side. 

Mostly houses and one-story apartment complexes,
a few small churches,
and every other development is named “something” Plantation:
Rice Mill— Juniper— Rolling Hills— Wilde Horn—

The woods are right up against where I live.
The sun is setting and shining a gold path through
the tall thin trees as I walk, following for the first time
the path that encircles my neighborhood.

As I walk on this two-lane road, I notice a country habit… most cars move over into the other lane to give me space to walk. There are few sidewalks here. 

When a car doesn’t move I try not to assume it’s because they’re impolite, but that they just didn’t see me. I am learning to be more loving. 

I stop at one of the canals that crisscross our neighborhood. I stare down the path alongside it shrouded in green grass and want to walk through, but the sign reading Canal Maintenance Path: No Trespassing keeps me out.

I cross the road and stare down the continuation of the canal. It’s November in Savannah and it is barely fall, if fall ever comes. You have to go to fall to find it. Here, there are just a few trees turning. I spot some yellows and reds.

In the canal I see something move—a white egret, speckled, stands on its stick legs. 

I stand and try to be as still. Then the bird turns its head in a twitch, so deliberate.
I bend at my waist like a ballerina, and we dance for a moment like this. 

Then shift—
Between movement and pose.
Movement and pose. 

Until the egret spreads its healthy wings and flies away down the canal. 
I cry at this thing of beauty. Such a miraculous gift for a sick girl…

I continue my walk, thinking of my mother who will visit soon. I want to take her here and wonder what she will think of my neighborhood. 

Are you happy here, daughter? is the question I know she will ask without saying it.

And how does one answer?

"I am learning to be, mother."

Savannah, GA