Egrets at Bolinas Lagoon

They looked like callas or tulips
you could gather with a fist

or white amaryllis
you could snip from their shimmering
place in the world

you could slip from their stems
with sharp scissors

but they were toiling
the salt under-veins, tunneling
the weedy caverns

with yellow pickaxes
hunting up
a shining nugget
of flesh.

I thought of Van Gogh again:
"Making progress is like miner’s work."

The birds that glowed like headlamps
were transformed by those alchemical
words, into painters and poets.

That same night
I woke nauseous, in a sweat,
with all the old worries.

− from The Fortunate Islands

"Turning from the Past" by Susan Kelly-DeWitt