Poets for Science
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On Seeing a Heronry of Egrets Nesting in a Tree




Perched ornamental like an angel
at the apex of a Christmas tree, the bird’s neck is curved,
slender, the elegant sway of a tangent function.
The set of egrets—the score of them, nested as they are

in the treed twilight—they could pass as a scatterplot,
snowy ellipses on a dark Euclidean plane. I want to discover
a pattern, a sine wave to impose, dogmatic
order to instill upon their random arrangement.
There is nothing

more orderly than the number one,
is there? unity and identity,
like Euler’s identity, numbers under the magical clutch
of an equation. When we mix every beautiful

number, it comes down to only one. When solving
for the irrational, there is no intercessory intercept
to invoke, no X in need of saving. On some days,

my incantation is serial, primary,
a set of numbers I chant
recursively. It is a sacrament to count,
beadless. Beads being derivative, rosary or Buddhist,
beads in my hand are powder down, finely disintegrating

and clustered. To be celebrant in a wake of buzzards.
Is that heresy? To be one
red-collared widowbird, mid-molt.
In a volery of birds, to be identity

when all around us, the sutra of dichotomy, narrowing
and scalar, some calculus of imputation, starlings
seen as only black.