Allison Hedge Coke

Platte Mares

From Sing: Poetry from the Indigenous Americas. Tucson: University of Arizona, 2011.

Migratory Sandhill Cranes rise into spiraled kettles, their
mares purring chortling kettling vortex siege sedge herd.
Vortexing themselves into dawn, dusk.

Call & response.
Call & response. Call & response. Call & response.

Tens of thousands looping high over mustang running buffalo sod.
Mares above, below.
Last year’s colts breaking out into adolescent gangs,
adolescent gangs, colt crane cohorts,
bachelor flock.
Over colt mustangs turning.
The mares above turning yaw.

My filly snapping teeth on cool air.
Her lead mare calling, she neighs quick.
Sandhills display, spread wings, preen, arch, calling, fluff out
toward intruders  cranes/coyotes.

All mares facing off the canine bite.
Territory three to two-fifty acres.
Nares, mandible.
Unison call, antiphonal territorial call, mated postures vocalized.

Covert lining flight feathers, primaries along the wing hand, propulse
forward,    secondaries, forearm inside primaries, soar and stop,
tertials of upper arm,
bustling close to the body—
estrous cycle  cloaca  oviduct—
Preparing for two egg clutch,
egg tooth tubercle horn. Precocial pipping breath,
hock tarsus—The ground mares fetlock proofed as well.

Kettling, converging, calling—home.
It is the season.

Reproduced with the permission of Allison Hedge Coke: poet, writer, filmmaker, founding director of the Literary Sandhill Crane Retreat & Lit CraneFest.