The herons gather their branches
as the red city crane moves left to right,
and the bridge lifts so that the Locks can open
and close to let the boats slide through
while the traffic stands still and the salmon
wait to jump the ladder to the other side.
Across the bank from the birds,
the crane drops planks of woods
to form high rises, apartments, townhomes,
accommodating the future
of the unbirthed Ballard dwellers.
As the ship enters and exits the Locks,
a heron striped with blue flies with a branch
between its pointed beak and in route, lets it go
on the nest of another before landing
at its destination high above.
There, the giver of materials, stands chest puffed,
a guardian of the vertical homes
clustered below where she stands but high
above the wet ground. She spreads herself
wide over the nest to protect the unborn chicks
who lie in wait underneath as she rocks back
and forth keeping them warm, wondering
when they’ll wake.
On this March day, the herons gather
unafraid of the stillness of a winter
that has yet to fully disappear;
they leave a collage of waste
on the concrete sidewalk.
Their breaths echo heaving
a collective sigh for the unknown,
the next step, the gathering of
a new branch.
This is Erin’s third year in the Seattle area. She spent two years living in Ballard and is now residing outside of the city in Shoreline. Having grown up in the desert southwest, she continues to be confounded by the amounts of rain this area receives; however, she loves the greenery and beauty, so is learning to accept the steady stream of rain. While water is a still a relatively new natural substance for her, she has a proclivity for the outdoors and has always lived near the mountains, so this area of the United States felt like home from the moment she set foot here.