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Standing before a ‘natural habitat’
enclosed in wire and glass
with a crowd of people peering in,
I looked deep into unblinking eyes
of an egret with clipped wings
and wondered if this might be
life’s defining moment
for the egret
or for me.

I saw white plumage
meant to fly, stark black eyes
that revealed no secrets.
I wondered what the egret saw
when it looked back at me.
Did it see a creature with clipped wings,
with eyes that told too much?
Did it see me
as the enemy?

The silence between us
was a thread unwinding,
a  second of understanding
brief but unending
when I sensed that each of us saw
in the pupil of the other
a glimpse of two universes