Author’s Note: “The White Egrets,” from my new book, Blue If Only I Could Tell You, reflects life in an isolated place in the country. The scene specifically draws on where I live in the upland regions of Hawaii Island, but other readers may recognize treasured places of their own. Here I am emulating the style of classical Chinese and Japanese poets like Du Fu and Basho.
The White Egrets
Who lives up there
I wonder—on the ridge beyond us
XXXXXXXXXover the gulch?
XXXspeaks syllables in the night
XXXXwhen I go to my window and listen.
No business of mine,
XXXbut I catch, at times, voices.
XXXXXThe wind blows toward me
XXXa cry of rapture,
XXXXXXXXthe laughter of children,
voices raised in anger on a difficult morning.
XXthese lives of ours lived at a distance,
bridged by the air that separates and joins us?
XXXflapping home to nests in the sea cliffs
by threes, by sevens, by twelves,
XXXview from their altitude
XXXXXXour valleys and misty hillsides.
A feather floats down from what they know of us.
Richard Tillinghast grew up in Memphis and was educated at Sewanee (University of the South) and Harvard. The prize-winning author of many books of poetry and creative nonfiction, this summer he published Blue If Only I Could Tell You, his thirteenth collection of poems. His literary travel books include Finding Ireland and Istanbul: City of Forgetting and Remembering. He lives in Hawaii and spends summers in Sewanee, Tennessee.
Delmarva Review publishes compelling poetry, fiction, and nonfiction selected from thousands of submissions annually. Designed to encourage outstanding new writing, the literary journal is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Financial support comes from tax-deductible contributions and a grant from the Talbot Arts Council with funds from the Maryland State Arts Council. Website: www.DelmarvaReview.org
Photography by Wilson Wyatt