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Trout and Heron

Trout and Heron

. 2 min read

Poetic reflection from a hike on 18 May. (19 May was the one year anniversary of my dad’s death and 26 May is the one year anniversary of Robin, my wife’s, death.) When I think about the mysteries of time, I always go back to the reflections and prayers of Augustine around time and eternity. In addition to contemplating loss, and gain, in the presence of death, I am also considering the way I move into the future. Robin and I always leaned into the future, whatever it was, however uncertain, however painful. But I never get there, only keep leaning, only keep learning, only discover that as continuous as it may be with the present moment it is also new and surprising.

Stillwater of the creek
Broken by trout rise
For mayfly or other insect
Leaving ripples
Expanding concentric circles

What is the cause?
The trout or the mayfly?
The gain or the loss?
You died almost a year ago
Leaving ripples

No satisfactory cause
Just expanding circles of loss
And gain – a final healing
The gift of memory
The communion of saints

I focus on the trout
Not on the loss
On the ripples
Not on the vacuum
The sucking sound of death

“In the eternal
Nothing can pass away
But the whole is present”
~ Augustine, Confessions, 11.11.13

Upstream a heron takes flight
Further up the creek
Away from me and my dog
The right wing visible for an instant
In the gap between hemlocks

The dog rushes forward into the future
Seeking a bird that will not wait
We have been this way before
Yet today it is new, unexplored
Like a familiar but half-forgotten song

I sing with uncertainty
Mumbling the words
Between memory and anticipation
The intention of the present
Consumes the future

Expands the past
But no matter the rush
I never arrive
Never see the heron again
And I don’t even know his song

“If future and past times exist
I wish to know where they are.
Wherever they are, they are there
Neither as future nor as past,
But as present”
~ Augustine, Confessions, 11.18.23

“These three are in the soul,
The present of things past is in memory
The present of things present is in intuition
The present of things future is in expectation”
~ Augustine, Confessions, 11.20.26

“Present intention transfers
The future into the past,
With the past increasing
By a diminution of future
Until by consumption of the future
The whole is made past”
~ Augustine, Confessions, 11.27.36