In this short poem by Vermont writer Jean L. Connor, an older speaker challenges the perception that people her age have lost their vitality...

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In this short poem by Vermont writer Jean L. Connor, an older speaker challenges the perception that people her age have lost their vitality and purpose. Connor compares the life of such a person to an egret fishing. Though the bird stands completely still, it has learned how to live in the world, how to sustain itself, and is capable of quick action when the moment is right.

TED KOOSER, U.S. Poet Laureate

For some time now, I have

lived anonymously. No one

appears to think it odd.

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They think the old are,

well, what they seem. Yet

see that great egret

at the marsh’s edge, solitary,

still? Mere pretense<

that stillness. His silence is

a lie. In his own pond he is

of some renown, a stalker,

a catcher of fish. Watch him.

Jean L. Connor

Reprinted from the journal Passager, 2001, by permission of the author. Copyright 2001 by Jean L. Connor whose first book of poetry, “A Cartography of Peace,” has recently been published by Passager Books, Baltimore. This weekly column is supported by The Poetry Foundation, The Library of Congress and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. This column does not accept unsolicited poetry. “American Life in Poetry” appears Fridays in Northwest Life.