I imagine the great painters of archangels
took the slender wings of egrets,
cut and lashed them to the backs of posing men.
Gabriel alighting at Mary’s side—
the majesty of the task—
the weight placed at her tiny feet.
The lake is a still life. An egret, on one leg,
watches below the surface the flutter of fish
between the subtle sway of bay grass.
I think of Icarus carrying the ambitions
of a race. The twisted maze on earth.
The father who knew too little. When
something unheard, something in this scene
hiccups, wingtips break
the surface, the egret lifts into the sky
with vast sweeping strokes. The bay
is just a bay again with two concentric circles
dissipating into the stillness.
If I could ask anything, I’d ask the egret
what it is like lifting to heaven
the weight of flesh with the weight of feathers.
Benjamin Mueller has published in 42 Opus, Euphony, Chronogram Magazine, and From the Finger Lakes: A Poetry Anthology. He is a high school English Language Arts and Special Education teacher in Ithaca, New York.