The Heron's Nest

Volume XVI, Number 1: March 2014

Editor's Choices

leap year
once a year my brother dies
no matter what

Bob Lucky
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

the needle slips
into the groove . . .
     autumn night

Francine Banwarth
Dubuque, Iowa

the black tail
of a dragon kite . . .
starling dusk

Claire Everett
Northallerton, North Yorkshire
United Kingdom


The Heron's Nest Award.

leap year
once a year my brother dies
no matter what

Bob Lucky
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Since the earliest of human times, perhaps at the advent of agriculture, arguably before, peoples spread over continents have watched the stars, moon, and sun, finding patterns. Observing, recording, and forecasting led to creation of physical calendars, a record of collective intellect. Perhaps priests of many sorts were the early scientists who could predict the seasons, rains, planting schedules and the like. About 5,000 years ago ancient Ur and Babylon developed a calendar, as did the Mayan civilization as well as builders of Stonehenge. Egypt was perhaps even earlier, later Athens and Rome. Some of these calendars had a solar year divided by 365 days. Jump to Julius Caesar in 45 BC, and the Gregorian, our modern calendar. Yet, it is still not perfected. A total of 365 sunrises comes up short of precise calculation. A day was added for every four years by a Papal Bull from Pope Gregory in 1582 CE. Several minutes and seconds are now added by computers that anticipate orbits quite accurately. Leap Year!

It seems likely poet Bob Lucky's brother died on a February 29th. Three out of four years it might seem as if there is no place, no room to observe this death. My own brother died as a young adult many years ago. My Mother and I talk on that date, and his birthday, every year. Someone remembers.

Lucky's lucid phrasing sets up a story, but imbues it with his emotion. I sense his frustration with such an artificial system. The love and remembrance are real. His brother is never ignored; he is not erased.

Paul MacNeil
March 2014