Friday, September 2, 2011

Winter Cranes

Winter Cranes

My wife saw birds pass over the frozen pond
and wondered aloud if they were cranes
desiring proof of their corporeal existence
to mark them as either a tangible reality
or a fantasy born of some lack in our lives.
Their wings beat exultantly, blossoming,
a wild spume of feathers backlit by morning sun
so they looked like more than just creatures
but symbols ferried from myth or poetry
to satisfy my wife’s wishes or my need to place
a few lines down upon the blank white sheet
of this morning’s latest offering of snow.
I said they were only herons. The same ones
from last summer come back a little early
guided by an instinct, a faint signal, hard-wired
in their brains to the earth’s magnetic fields
allowing them to navigate their way here
each year to stand like sentries, silhouettes
against the pond’s grey light, if only to teach us
how even patience can be a kind of violence.
“I want them to be cranes, “my wife said again
a little more forcefully this time so her words
were now a truth or a sacrament of experience
fully grasped, making us hungry for the dynasties
of the past we believe such birds emerge from
like after-images of a dream only now recalled.
“I wish they were cranes too”, I said, watching
the pair descending towards the farthest end
of the pond where the ice was the thinnest,
the city hardening its shell in the background
still waiting for the winter storms to come.

By Chris Banks

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