Our land was built in a swamp and gathered together, string by string and note by note, by the hard work of others. In some places, the swamp still exists, token reminders of how we cannot conquer, how our stubborn nature is sometimes refused. The Stork Man lives in those places, balanced on his high legs, walking with stealth. I do not know where he lives in daylight, but I know he stalks in the shade. His beak is his blade. I knew him by proxy when I watched a bright white bird fishing in the tide. The bird took spare notice of me, leaping from place to place, avoiding the buffeting of waves, flapping with purpose. When he saw prey, he furiously pecked with his needle beak, gathering unseen delicacies from the swiftly moving waters at his webbed feet. I imagine the Stork Man must work the same way, emerging at dusk’s last stand, dark plumage, gathering unfortunate wanderers into a small pile of rubble, attacking them with an edge of scalpel-like beak. It is best not to wander into the mire, it is best to leave those unconquered places to the lonely and mechanical violence of untamed and forceful nature.
JD DeHart is a writer and teacher. His chapbook, The Truth About Snails, is available from Red Dashboard.