Monday, April 19, 2010

heron stillness

That's what I was appreciating this morning on the way to work. Cycling along the outer edge of Jamaica Pond at a quarter to six, the heron glides above the water and alights beside a group of three trees along the shore, not sixty feet from me. Adjusting his straw-thin legs he turns outward and...stops. I approach halfway - trying to appear gentle and disinterested - and for about three minutes not a muscle moves on this amazing predator. No mammalian facial ticks, no blinking. Every muscle is still.

Can any of you reading this remember the first book, or any book, that, with the very first words, darted out and captured you? You felt, reading the first sentence, that this book will mean something big to me. And then it turned out to be true? You got to the end and the whole book justified those first words?

For me, it was the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. And the words aren't even really all that gripping, either. But the voice with which they were read, somehow, even that early in the narrative, was assuring, respectful, and warm, and it promised secret worlds of story-telling.

A book is like (and let me say here that I realize my analogy is a stretch, but really, any analogous thing you can come up with for a Book is going to be a stretch, and yet miraculously close to the truth, as well. What is a book yet to be read except nothing and everything?) a heron.

It glides into your home and...stops.
It's pages settle minutely, and then nothing moves, not leaf or jacket.
You approach, it is still.
You examine it, you watch it, you trust it.
Put your hand out to touch the cover, to open the first page.

It darts, and you are taken.

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