American Life in Poetry: Column 331


It is estimated that one out of five Americans enjoys spending time bird watching, or birding, and here’s a poem for some of those people by Kathleen M. McCann, who lives in Massachusetts. I especially like the way she captures the egret’s stealthy motion in the second stanza.

Lone Egret

Classically stagy, goose-neck
elegant, river’s third eye.
Pencil thin head. S
for a throat. Skeleton of a saint.

Plodder, preening posturer.
One foot,
Up from the dank weeds.

We do not accept unsolicited submissions. American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2010 by Kathleen M. McCann, whose most recent book of poetry is A Roof Gone to Sky, Carpenter Gothic Publishers, Inc., 2010. Reprinted from South Dakota Review, Vol. 48, no. 1, 2010, by permission of Kathleen M. McCann and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2019 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.