Abigail Okland / Charlotte Latin School, Charlotte, NC

This work is inspired by William Butler Yeats and is more of a memoir than a campaign. But, the elements of nature play on the memory, making them more complementary than separate entities. I grew up spending my summers at Badin Lake, a part of Uwharrie National Forest. Growing up on the lake, we often saw blue herons in the brush. I have always been fascinated by them, and so, in this piece, I like to think of myself as embodying a blue heron. Originally, I wrote that persona using masculine pronouns, but I felt that the feminine identity not only allowed for me to connect more with the character, but to speak for women as forces of nature, impacting everything around them with their grace and strength.

In a more personal context, I am leaving in a few short weeks for Samford University where I will pursue a degree in music education with a concentration in choral and vocal music. At the time I wrote this poem, I was quickly approaching graduation and realizing the impact of my quick departure. For obvious reasons, I chose the blue heron to be sloughing off the water as symbolic for my new journey, leaving all that has previously held me back and the comfort zones that have served me well for many years. In this next season, I will be completely independent, as the heron finds itself once leaving the water.

English Teacher: Mr. Richard Harris

The Blue Heron of Badin Shore

The water laps at the side of the smooth fiberglass bow.

Little waves stream out in the wake, we slice through the waves,

The throttle pulls back, and the surge catches up to us.

Hidden in the reeds, the slender blue heron lifts its wings,

raises its head, and with one powerful stroke,

Mingles with the wind, carrying away its silence.

Her wings push air back to the earth,

Sloughing off the water that had cradled,

Entering into an atmosphere of potential poetry.

Her movements slow, suspended in Uwharrie Forest

As a giant awakening from deep sleep, the climatic peak,

Alarms blaring at the first kiss, a beautiful whisper, the last memory.

Wings push away air, forgetting memories and moments,

Looking to the horizon, not the reeds where she found comfort.