The Heron and the Koi

On a day so bright and vivid
I saw something bold and livid.
Something which I’ll tell you evermore.

For this thing it was a blessing,
though it wrecked me, so distressing.
Something I still feel inside my core.

Though this day was blue and clear,
I took in something I still fear,
because it changed me fully inside through.

I witnessed life. I witnessed death.
I made a choice of who got breath.
And these actions birthed my soul anew.

Quietly I walked the shore.
I breathed the air it was so pure.
As my steps, they brought me straight ahead.

And on my path there were two things,
two creatures of which fate did bring,
two souls of which one would soon be dead.

This sight, it brought me none of joy:
a tall blue heron and a koi
were there amongst the surf and seaside spray.

The koi was dying, body flapping.
The heron perched, its wings were clapping,
proud and bold and boasting of its prey.

For the bird, it caught this meal.
It's feathers ruffled, shining teal,
while the orange koi was turning white.

And in that moment I grew cold,
yet simultaneously bold,
as two sides of me began to fight.

“Save the koi,” my head did say.
“Frighten that huge bird away,
and place the fish right back into the lake.

For the koi, he cannot fight
and death will come with heron’s bite.
To watch him die will make my heart so ache.”

But then another side chimed in,
a thought with bitterness like gin,
a voice so gravely and full of spite:

“You’d deny this bird a feast?
Deny this victorious beast
the food that gives it energy for flight?”

And so I had to make a choice.
I had to listen to one voice.
I had to sentence one of them to death.

My heart it swelled and pulsed and pounded.
Wrenched and throbbed and ached and sounded
like a drum, while I grew short of breath.

I couldn’t let a creature die.
I thought, "What kind of man am I?
To not fight for the lesser, helpless soul?”

I charged and swung my arms astray.
I scared the massive bird away!
As it hollered like some kind of troll.

But it was not so sure of flight.
It ebbed so harshly to the right.
Reluctant to put pressure on its wing.

An injured bird. It was not strong.
I thought it virile. I was wrong.
Imagine all the pain and suffering.

I approached my scaly friend,
its body shook, its back did bend.
“Don’t worry, you’ll go back into the sea.”

I scooped him up into my palm,
and walked him to the water’s calm.
I watched him swim, restored, alive and free.

“I saved a life,” I reassured
the part of me who’s mind was blurred
with images of the blue heron starved.

But then…
I saw it. 

I stabbed myself with words of hate!
I had failed this test of fate!
My righteousness would damn my soul to hell.

For in the distance, with the bird,
some tiny, tiny creatures stirred.
The heron paced amongst a nest that fell.

Five starving chicks squeaked for the food
they hoped their mother had accrued.
But she had nothing but a broken limb.

The heron gazed a stare so solemn.
It froze my neck and spinal column.
For I knew the birds, their light would dim.

And on this day I felt the pangs
of lessons entering like fangs
that would leave no room for recompense.

For in choosing death or life
I felt the plunge just like a knife
into the everlasting void of consequence. 

Still to this day, my sunken back
weighs heavy of this choice so black.
Oh how I wish this wound would someday heal.

But it shall not, instead he’ll say
each and every single day:
“Sometimes, let the monster have his meal."


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