Sandhill cranes in February
Peggy Pond Church
And on and on they came
through the pale afternoon,
long strands and ribbons,
arcs and curving wedges
hieroglyphs in motion,
staves of music.
We looked upward again and again and again and saw them flying
and as they flew they called to one another
the call sounded
through these myriad throats like the voice of a single being
half angel half bird
a wind sound, a water sound,
a sound as golden as honey.
We listened and felt ourselves enchanted beyond mortal sense.
All afternoon the sky was our dancing ground.
The long song rose and fell
the convergent lines formed circles.
We were children again in a ring around a rosy
immersed in a mystery.
In the end we must all fall down
in a slow spiral out of heaven
and be ourselves again
earth and our stolid bodies claimed us.
We leaned against stones
the white clouds were slate clean.
On either side of the cliffs were voiceless sandstone.
All afternoon the cranes kept flying over
aligning themselves with the music
As the sound ebbed we spoke wistfully of dying
when our time came into such ecstasy