THE SANDHILL CRANES

 

On my path today, a worn and weathered man

turned and, eager, asked, Did you see

the sandhill cranes? He meant, I knew,

the two large birds some yards back,

standing in a field of waving grasses—

one bird, bent deeply forward, feeding;

the other, tall, eyeing me. Its elongated neck

curved sinuously. Earlier,

mirror-reflected, I’d caught sight of the slight

curve of my upper back, the start, it dawned,

of my own slow bent toward

and into earth. Now this man, elderly,

telling of migratory habits

(of which I mostly heard return, return),

said, Sorry? then leaned again

into my question. In broad-rimmed hat, dark shades,

under a sun I’m sure he’d known to warm,

to parch, today he stood brimming with Yes,

it’s rare to see them here. Grasses waved.

The mountains kept watch, clouds creeping

past peaks. I did see

the turning, still, to another; the sighting,

once more, of cranes come back. Like him—all grace,

all hunger.

 

Rosanne Smith’s poems appear or are forthcoming in various literary journals, including The Hollins Critic, Crazyhorse, and Water-Stone Review.

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