Past the strip malls and the power plants,
out of the holler, past Gun Bottom Road
and Brassfield and before Red Lick Creek,
there’s a stream called Drowning Creek where
I saw the prettiest bird I’d seen all year,
the Belted Kingfisher, crested in its Aegean
blue plumage perched not on a high nag
but on a transmission wire, eyeing the creek
for crayfish, tadpoles, and minnows. We were
driving fast back home and already our minds
were pulled taut like a high black wire latched
to a utility pole. I wanted to stop, stop the car
to take a closer look at the solitary stocky water
bird with its blue crown and its blue chest
and its uncommonness. But already we were
a blur and miles beyond the flying fisher
by the time I had realized what I’d witnessed.
People were nothing to that bird, hovering over
the creek. I was nothing to that bird that wasn’t
concerned with history’s bloody battles or why
this creek was called Drowning Creek, a name
I love though it gives me shivers, because
it sounds like an order, a place where one
goes to drown. The bird doesn’t call the creek
that name. The bird doesn’t call it anything.
I’m almost certain, though I am certain
of nothing. There is a solitude in this world
I cannot pierce. I would die for it.