Stalking Revenge on the Tamiami Trail
by Karla Linn Merrifield

This poem keeps its clawed feet
on the ground, more silt than soil.
They are the caution-yellow feet
of a snowy egret with all six toes
submerged and distorted by refraction
through an inch of clear, if toxic, water.
This poem balances on its edge of Earth
with the black-lacquered stilts
of an intensive, dedicated wader; it crooks
low to wield a sharp black sword. How
quick the thrust and strike to angle prey.

While this poem senses it could loft on
weightless white wings–could be a seraph
of the early dew–and fly into a remnant
pond apple tree, instead it waits, still, stiller,
to feed. On mosquito fish? Young Florida gar?
An exotic, invasive tilapia? No. This poem
claims a more voracious, eclectic appetite.
Up to its ankles in a shallow Everglades
slough, it takes its studied stand
on one foot now, poised, focused,
watching for you to swim by.


Editor’s Note: Previously published in Dawn of Migration and Other Audubon Dreams, "Stalking Revenge on the Tamiami Trail," was inspired by the profusion of avian wildlife at Collier-Seminole State Park, FL.


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