White Cranes in Spring

&8212;for Marcia

From the Platte River. Don Welch, 1992.

There were white cranes that spring,
the feathers bowls of their wings
scooping out air, lifting them
like unstemmed peonies.

Over the Gulf they could only
circle so long as Galveston’s halos
before they broke for the Platte,
a blue braid which runs through Nebraska.

For centuries they had danced on
corn bones, on the fossilized memories
of nomads; or played contrabassoon
to the winter through the long folds

of their syrinx. In each bird
was a red germ, the unison cipher
of sex. And that spring,
paired up, we too flew north

following the kissed-out leaves
of the willows, for a million springs
having said the same thing,
and crying it hoarsely.

Used with the permission of Don Welch

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