Great Blue Heron
stalks frogs early morning
on bird legs, beak long it struts
the edge of pond.
I startle it.
Wings span and soar away.
Just like that, it’s gone.
This summer was that kind of summer.
The fleeting and difficult kind.
The volatile verging on violent kind.
The kind where life and loss coincide,
two sides of a beautiful and tragic coin.
We lost four beloved animals,
two to traffic, two to nature,
all four losses sudden.
Our duck KB,
who had recently taken a liking to crossing the street,
was hit by a car on his morning jaunt,
leaving behind his once inseparable partner, Max,
our resilient and now solitude duck,
who had survived massacres and brutal winters,
only to be alone once again.
But then two weeks after KB passed,
a red fox snatched Max
before our very eyes.
We saw it through a bright and brutal window
of paned glass and a sliver of time.
We ran outside and it was over
in a mess of blood and feathers,
the fox driven by an innocent hunger,
“natural” as the heron hunting frogs in the pond.
That which is innocent can still be barbaric.
Around that same time,
our dear cat Lightning
who loved walking the gardens with us
who never asked for anything, but always gave us love
was run over by a car and survived
with a dislocated hip the vet popped into place.
But even after a time of healing, he still couldn’t walk without falling,
though he kept trying, persistently, to join our roams in the gardens.
The day before we were to take him back to the vet,
he fell into the path of a moving car
and we cried for the deep pain of all of it.
Our loving cat Eva, aged 16 years old,
our oldest and toughest and sweetest cat,
our watchdog cat, caretaker of children,
loyal lap sitter, silent companion, soother
of anyone crying— lost her sparkle and spunk,
stopped eating and drinking, caught a simple,
unbeatable cold and became too weak
to jump up on the bed. When I cried for her,
she didn’t make her soothing noises.
It was the only time in her entire life
she didn’t move to soothe me.
It was breath-stealing to say goodbye.
A few days after we buried Eva,
I dreamed of my sweet cat Moonglow
who disappeared years ago.
In my dream he had never gone.
The next day, a new and friendly blue-grey kitten
found me in the hostas, bounced right up to me,
into my arms, onto my lap, into my home.
For five days she played
and then suddenly was gone.
I like to think she returned to
a loving home she had left temporarily
because Eva sent her to me, to soothe me
one last time and to offer a symbol
of Eva’s newfound energy, and perhaps, even,
to share a sign of Moonglow’s eternal love.
How sublimely volatile
every single moment,
so volatile it verges on violent
that we can come to know tragedy
of loss only because we’ve known beauty
of life, fleeting and difficult
to grasp as single grains of sand.
So we take handfuls, hold on
to what we can
and try to let go
--by Diana Tigerlily, 2016