Gone Lawn
a journal of literature
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Gone Lawn 42
Samhain, 2021

Featured artwork, Dr. Simone with Blue Fire, by María DeGuzmán

New Works

Charles Tarlton

The Snowy Egret

a shower
of white fire!
— Mary Oliver

Within the sense of white things, what a snowy egret knows beyond the muddy marsh and green reeds come to shore, herself reflected all in white, is a mirroring, a blinding white that shadows unsuspecting little things.

white bird, white like Easter is white

We can imagine egrets on their spindly legs spearing fishes, insects, frogs, and snakes, but who wear the egret's feathers anymore? Egrets only in the moment, watched for meaning and a beauty hard to get your words around.

white bird symbolic of polished things

A white moment waiting to reach completion in its precarious white elegance. A black dog, and the Irish sky black with corvus frugilegus, rookeries high in the trees. Egrets might stand for a single idea, something the gods might have foreseen, but otherwise a surprise.

the rook's black makes an opposite, hiding her eyes

A white rainbow, the snowy egret's shadow skates unseen across the moon's face. On a straight line parallel with the road across the marsh, another egret flies, her long legs stretched behind like Baryshnikov's high cabrioles in La Bayadere.

a white arrow shot along the treetops

From the bank of North Cove looking across the yacht anchorage to hills still more distant and then the railway, one egret flies east, going left to right, a silent white speck in the distance. Here in the foreground another fishes for minnows.

the surface of the river is calm, reflecting everything

Just skin-deep, our perfect beauty swallows a whole fish, the sea behind a white thread on a nimble needle pulled quickly through warp and woof, a greenly sunlit picket fence of feathery reed flowers growing in the calm salt marsh.

phragmites australis

The snowy egret's faster than the will-o'-the-wisps. "Athena threw an egret down the dark," as Homer said, in the summer salt shallows. A bright white, alabaster statue, under brilliant light, outside in the glazing sun. Nothing huggable about her—water, reeds, and an imagined nymph.

what is the egret, then, to me?

A sentinel standing on an edge of sand or marsh, still, pure white, and stylish, You can know more easily the black crow caw-cawing in its treetop or the felon gull strutting around on the sand. But, from the egret we expect suavity, aplomb, a perfect bird on show.

Two egrets like alien punctuation marks in some indecipherable

What's all this to me; do I see a deeper meaning? You can make a metaphor out of just about anything — late sunset reflecting red-orange off the egret's feathers, the edges a crochet of flames, the last light to go out.

"Dozing egrets and gulls on the sand, do not so much as turn their

Li Qingzhao, looking up from reading the leaves on the trees. Rows of egrets on the wet sand dozing with gulls, admiring lotuses and sagiso (white-egret orchids) with their wispy wing feathers, like the egret in full passion resurrected.

Tarlton is a retired university professor trying to find a way forward for American poetry that avoids magnetic poetry's randomness. He lives at the shore in Connecticut (with his wife, Ann Knickerbocker, an abstract painter, and Nikki, their black, female, standard poodle). And here he discovered sea-birds—egrets, osprey, gulls, pipers, terns, and fishcrows (and the invasive muted swan).