Thirty Egrets ~ Judith Wright McKinney
Once as I travelled through a quiet evening,
I saw a pool, jet-black and mirror-still.
Beyond, the slender paperbarks stood crowding;
each on its own white image looked its fill,
and nothing moved but thirty egrets wading –
thirty egrets in a quiet evening.
Once in a lifetime, lovely past believing,
your lucky eyes may light on such a pool.
As though for many years I had been waiting,
I watched in silence, till my heart was full
of clear dark water, and white trees unmoving,
and, whiter yet, those thirty egrets wading.
It’s my favourite Judith Wright McKinney poem. Every year, at the end of May, Wombat Bend becomes the night roosting place for our own little collection of thirty egrets. Sometimes 12, sometimes 20, and sometimes the whole flock of 30. They’ll stay till August.
Where they go between August and May I can only speculate, but there’s no doubt the genetic memory of this little mob remains very clear and strong. And with their return every year, we welcome them back and take great delight in their presence.
What is it that triggers their memory for Wombat Bend as a safe wintering place? I wish I knew.