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.

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