“Park Attendant” by Lloyd Shaw
We watch from the hill the parry,
thrust, and puncture of his art,
as heron-skilled he stabs
at schools of paper darting
fish-like through the Sunday crowds.
Inept at sums, he measures pride
in piercing the matchbook's crease,
the cognizance of shifting gusts
malevolently willing a leaf
to dodge his practiced jab.
He knows his flapping coat can whip
a wind to mar the sureness
of his aim for the wrapper's heart.
But terror's in the vision
of this man as bird. How
more awkward, pained, he stumbles
by the noon tables, gulping
proffered charities, frightening
children, stuffing into pockets
the day's bounty. Like a
caged heron, graceless, cowering,
picking, turning, his bacon rind,
dead fish, and bread, disturbing
our memory with the essential skill
that stalked unrippling the matted marsh,
holding for an instant between each step
one foot suspended in a still pose.