Shanta Acharya: “Snowy Egret”


Smeared in ash, head bent in the morning mist,

one leg crooked, resembling an Indian yogi,

the snowy egret meditates beyond regret

and desire on the struggle to assuage hunger.

Perched on a boulder at the edge of the river

that keeps retreating every season, he waits—

a seasoned fisherman poised for a catch,

for a taste of flesh to freshen his mouth fouled

by plastic. Suddenly, he darts forward, dives in,

scoops a mouthful of quivering slivers.

Standing upright he savours the moment,

rapt in the dazzling company of clouds.

Lifting a creel of sunshine, he spreads his wings

with the grace of a ballet dancer retreating—

unaware of his separateness, one with the light

soaring on his back to the call of the universe.

Shanta Acharya is the author of eleven books, her latest poetry collection is Imagine: New and Selected Poems (HarperCollins, India; 2017). Her poems, articles and reviews have appeared in Poetry Review, PN Review, The Spectator, Guardian Poem of the Week, The New European, Oxford Today, Agenda, Acumen, Envoi, Journal of Postcolonial Writing, Philosophy Now, Stand, Asia Literary Review, HarperCollins Book of English Poetry, Ariel, Fulcrum, Cimarron Review, Pirene’s Fountain, The Literary Review, Snowy Egret, and Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia & Beyond.

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