Wood Stork Needs Mate

By Susan R. Williamson

Yesterday I saw a pair of wood storks take off

and fly in separate directions. One sailed across

a wide expanse of flat green field, the other’s wings

were mirrored in the nearby lake.


Riding thermals over a palm, then a banyan,

their flight paths diverged in a wide “v” until

I could no longer see both at the same time.

My limited peripheral vision.


My friend the birder tells me wood storks mate

for life, a heady lifestyle in the natural order—so much

depending on survival and fitness, boredom or excitement,

or pleasure and pain—or some other opposite.


Isn’t that what attracts one to the other? Links of pheromone

or invisible lines drawn to appearance, aura, or agenda.

Doctor, lawyer, husband, poet, wood stork, mate, or wife?

Who says the bonds will hold?


Or will planes come crashing, tsunami wash the stretch

of land once lived upon, earthquake shake the East Coast’s

fault, or hurricane waste a path of destruction through

what was once considered solid?


This could be fate, or just what is, my friend the birder

says. But then I saw the two storks land together again, near

the lake’s retaining wall, grass greening beneath their wings,

their long and oddly hinged legs kneeled to perfect purchase.


I saw one tuck a long-beaked head under wing, safe, as the other

took watch. One feathered sentry looked out over slick water’s

surface, clouds as white reflections passing by in a mirror where

we might also see ourselves.



A poet and arts administrator, Susan R. Williamson divides her time between Charlottesville, where she serves on the advisory board of Streetlight Magazine and Boca Raton, where she is assistant director of The Palm Beach Poetry Festival.

Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Beltway Poetry Quarterly, The Cape Rock, The Chaffin Journal, Connecticut Review, Controlled Burn, Crab Orchard Review, Eclipse, Hawai’I Pacific Review, Lagniappe, Lucid Oona, Lumina, The MacGuffin, Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, Paterson Literary Review, Sanskrit, Schuylkill Valley Journal, Smartish Pace, StorySouth, Streetlight, Three Candles, The Virginia Quarterly Review, and Willow Review. Her work was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and more recently anthologized in Letters to the World (Red Hen Press 2007). She has attended the Sewanee Writers Conference, Nimrod Summer Writers Workshop, and won the University of Virginia Medical Center LINK Poetry Award, judged by Kate Daniels. A finalist for the VaBook On-In-Ten Competition, she received a fellowship with the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and is currently a Joel Oppenheimer fellow in New England College’s MFA poetry program.

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