Into the snow fly wild geese
Over trees stripped bare of bark
And leaves—a feather slivers free.
The white crane, austere and silent
At water’s edge—does not budge
It stands—passive and intense.
Into the past, where I and you were we
Concealed interiors, glass and steel visibility
Impervious to ardor and rage—I plunge.
The snow descends, worlds blur
I will not let you go—and turn
Eastward—into a biting embrace.
He held her sagging head—until the drunken retching stopped
He’d held it before—when the tooth was pulled, the D&C, bad news received
He stroked the damp hair; quieted sobs, then
moved from their bed to the couch in the den,
to the studio miles away, then out of state.
He worked hard—married again, mourned thinning hair, loss of another wife
He grew distant from friends—especially those who reminded him
Restored cars and bought a sail boat,
performed magic tricks for sick kids, took yearly trips
to the coast, and continued to vote.
He avoided college reunions—returned home only for weddings, deaths
He played tennis and racquetball, ate at the country club
Invested his money wisely, tried to laugh enough,
advanced, he suspected, because he didn’t give a damn
about research, going green, using four letter words.
They said he was a good man—few would disagree.
How she would loathe what he was and had become
How she disliked flat rituals and routine, memberships—comforting
And adored spontaneity, dinners in reverse, and snow white cranes
disciplined and solitary in their gaze, prone to migrate
to new sources of feed, retaining wisdom in their wings.
They said she was a flawed thing—only he disagreed.
He wasn’t a sentimental man—and sometimes woke to stop the dreams
He only played CDs and mix tapes—he’d never risk hearing her moody notes
Shunned zoos and parks, rivers and lakes—all inland water ways
until one day, he did what he would never have done
focusing on sky, lake, land—he stood at water’s edge.
He remembered all of her—damp hair, pale lips, shadows and curves
He wondered if silver replaced the mane of gold, if she still hummed those words
He reclaimed what for 30 years had been lost—her, him
he pleaded for a sign, then demanded—with raised fist
she be returned to him—he lifted his head, majestically
The crane posed, leg bent, at water’s edge
Walking, I saw it—though the form
Could have been two—flurries of white at dusk.
Swiftly, limbs spread, it turned
Joyfully, feathers preened, unconcerned
Spinning zealously—with ardent intensity.
Into the twilight soared the bird
Merging until vague—until only dark remained
That was when I saw her.
The snow whirled, eyes blurred as
Human form turned into bird—winging
Westward—free of earth.
Poem by Joanna Hannigan, Creative Writer/Proposal Developer
Cailleach Bhur Caer, Loudon, TN 37774