Hands like Sunrise

By Chris Bahnsen

January 12, 2015

Hands like Sunrise

From the riverbank I watch a great white egret on jointed stilts near a patch of tall reeds, calm as the shallows where it stands. My father would come here the way other people come to morning mass, this river his wide altar.

Explosive, the egret’s yellow beak spears through its own reflection then bursts skyward throwing diamond droplets. A minnow pinched at the end whips its tail through summer air cleaned by last night's rain, trying to find the liquid pulse of the river again. Little fish, only a false Adam’s apple now, wriggling down the smoky vine of neck.

Behind me the cottonwoods sigh with the gentleness of my father’s last breath. I can still feel the expanding loneliness of its departure. I can see the stillness of the pond outside his Hospice room window that day, his eyes looking there until I closed them.

He whispered this riverbank to me, his secret place of devotion, when he couldn't leave his bed anymore. So I look toward the bright glory of the egret whose wings stretch open now and strum the river with silken beats. Watch it sail over a raft of water lilies that float buttery blooms, and the sun on its morning arc reaches through the trees, resting on my shoulders like my old man's hands.


Photo "white" provided by Linda, via Flickr creative commons license.


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