Manzano Mountain Review is an online New Mexico literary journal affiliated with UNM-Valencia.

The Omen (must be) from the Great Blue Heron in my Backyard

by Maria Teutsch

My mother says it must be an omen, but of what, she doesn’t know.
Terminal cancer, she’s become a shaman of what’s between the sea and the landing.

We’re binge-watching Breaking Bad. “All doctors want us to radiate.”
"Fade away and radiate," a Blondie song from the 80s pipes through my head.

She’s home now, not a metaphor, but a three hours drive from here
into a polluted wasteland of petroleum, pesticides and tumbleweeds.

A place where a great blue heron would never live, only migrate through. 
My house is on a creek that trickles--sometimes torrents--to the ocean’s maw.

Now it’s meandering. The bathymetry has changed since last year:
two trees fell in my yard, on Easter a spruce crashed the trellis, shaved the cherry.

Then the cottonwood smashed the tea roses, but they were un-thwarted.
Lots of light now, more birds. The house finches returned: a nest in the barbeque:

the Steller’s jays returned; a nest in the bottle brush, not their usual stupid choice
of the patio umbrella, though they did leave a few twigs there for their gods.

And the great blue heron, a first time visitor. 
A portent. "An omen," she says.

The heron, who suffers no fool, flies past my line of vision, to the sea.
Great sweeps of wing close enough to tease a strand of hair from my face.

Over my shoulder a shudder of air as all the mourning doves tear out
of the sycamore, a sound like the gods’ shrill laughter, a chilling sound.

"An omen," she says. These nests we build inside ourselves, on rocky perches:

 -To love is to borrow a future sorrow made of sticks and hair and spit.

Maria Garcia Teutsch’s collection, The Revolution Will Have its Sky, won the 2015 Minerva Rising chapbook competition, judge: Heather McHugh. She is a poet, editor, educator and performance artist. www.marialoveswords.com