by Hedy Habra

An Egyptian sculpture
lost in the Northern wilderness,
the blue heron stands out
in the whitened landscape,
mimics an ibis’ fixed stare,
studies the frozen creek,
sensing trembling gills
beneath the transparent sheet.

But why land in my backyard
I wonder, where no lotus ever grows?
Unless he sees his own ancestral roots
in my wide-open eyes lined with kohl,
and knows that water from the Nile
still runs in my veins since birth.

In warmer seasons he has seen me
feed the silver fish,
tend the vegetable garden,
bend over perennials
springing stronger each year,
add more seeds,
making this our home,
where we’ve lived the longest ever.

Today he saw me walk in circles
in the stillness of barren trees
over crisp snow flakes
masking all signs of life,
the forget-me-nots throbbing
under their icy coat, scintillating,

a thousand suns
opening a dam of flowing memories
on sunnier shores
promises of blossoms to come stanza break

until suddenly, as if pulsated by an engine,
statuesque, the migrant bird deploys gigantic
wings, disappears through the dead branches.

SOURCE: “Blue Heron” appears in Hedy Habra’s collection Tea in Heliopolis (2013 Press 53). The poem was first published in Come Together: Imagine Peace, Philip Metres, Ann Smith and Larry Smith eds.

IMAGE: “Great Blue Heron” by Suzanne Gaff. Prints available at


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Hedy Habra was born in Egypt and is of Lebanese origin. She is the author of a poetry collection, Tea in Heliopolis, winner of the 2014 USA Best Book Awards and finalist for the 2014 International Book Award; a story collection, Flying Carpets, winner of the 2013 Arab American National Book Award’s Honorable Mention and finalist for the USA Best Book Awards and the 2014 Eric Hoffer Award. She is a recipient of the 2012 Nazim Hikmet Poetry Award. Her multilingual work has appeared in more than forty journals and fifteen anthologies, including Connotation Press, Poetic Diversity, Blue Fifth Review, Nimrod, New York Quarterly, Drunken Boat, Diode, The Bitter Oleander, Cider Press Review and Poet Lore. She has a passion for painting and teaches Spanish at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. Her website is