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Sunday 4 November 2012

The Cranes Are Flying


Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis) flying at Sacramento River National Wildlife Refuge, Dayton, California:
photo by Steve Emmons, 7 November 2008 (Pacific Southwest Region, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Overhead, against
......................a high
November sky

the cranes come calling

the returning flocks

their swath, cutting

through light
................air, moving
................... ..........across
the wide
.....the tall grasses
.....the water courses
great undulating

processional lines

Sandhill Cranes (Grus canadensis) flying at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico:
photo by Manjith Kainickara, 21 November 2010


Courtship display of Sandhill Cranes (Grus canadensis), Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico: photo by Manjith Kainickara, 21 November 2010

Festival of Cranes: a swoop of Sandhill Cranes (Grus canadensis) in the landing process, Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico
: photo by Manjith Kainickara, 21 November 2010

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Flock of Sandhill Cranes (Grus canadensis), central Nebraska
: photo by MONGO, 7 March 2007

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Sandhill Cranes (Grus canadensis) coming for a landing at the process Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico
: photo by Jerry Friedman, 11 February 2006

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Two Sandhill Cranes (Grus canadensis) flying at sunrise over Horicon National Wildlife Refuge, Wisconsin
: photo by Dori, 12 September 2009

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Sandhill Cranes (Grus canadensis) in flight, near Muleshoe National Wildlife Refuge, Bailey County, Texas: photo by Leaflet, 13 November 2009


Hazen said...

Echelons of words fly across the page ‘in great undulating processional lines.’ Beautiful.

Anonymous said...

the privilege of birds...nicely put!

Hazen said...

Your poem, Tom, evokes a moment some decades ago when I was privileged to come alongside a great eastward migration of geese while driving across Arkansas on a bright winter morning in early January. The formation was many miles in length and a hundred or more yards wide; a great river of birds, a coherent stream of life moving in the sky, with purpose. Why they were flying east at the onset of winter is beyond my ken. Perhaps, following some invisible aerial highway, they would swing right at the Mississippi River and navigate south to warmer climes. Though our routes ran parallel for a good while, I eventually overtook them somewhere west of Memphis. I’ve never seen anything like it, before or since.

vazambam (Vassilis Zambaras) said...

The key word I think here is "processional"; and Hazen’s right—



their swath, cutting

through light
................air, moving
................... ..........across
the wide

Beautiful poem and photos. Once upon a time, seems like a lifetime ago, I saw those sandhill cranes up in Eastern Oregon (at the Malheur Wilderness Area), and wrote this poem, which seems now to take on new life in light of these photos --


The sandhill cranes in
flight like swallows and
other small birds have
learned to rely on
instinct. That is why
when they get up or
rather wheel into
the cold, Canada

dawn knowing South is
neither tundra, tall-
wood nor yellowing
steppe they drive further,
over floating earth,
gorging the air's blood.

Meanwhile, this humble offering for today --


light coming into sky above still black
ridge, white of waning moon beside roof
in foreground, wave sounding in channel

that centrifugal action may
be, relation to these

transformed, corresponds to
case in which, system

silver of sunlight reflected in channel,
whiteness of moon in cloudless blue sky



Oh my here's another one -- closer to home, must have been written sometime after Oona was born, seems to go particularly well with the third photo here --


Audubon Canyon Ranch

Somewhere the sandhill cranes are flying,
With a long sweep of the neck test
The rushes, swampgrass, marsh and drying
Shoreline for food, a place to rest;
Are circling down, deep-throated, crying
Louder, round and around the nest--
The fish in the belly of the great
Grey fisher, flesh for the proud mate.

TC said...

Thanks to everyone. This is testimony.

The navigational and aeronautic skills and grace and sheer excellence of the presence on the planet of such majestic birds inspires humility.

Last weekend they had the annual Sandhill Crane Festival over in Lodi; those rich delta wetlands have been a migratory destination for the sandhills, coming down from as far as Siberia, going back before what we call history.

As though they cared about that.

In some of the photographic evidence one sees the sandhills with wings ragged and a bit the worse for wear after their long flight. Just so we don't get the impression it's an easy thing to do those amazing journeys...

Ah Steve, I do remember the great bird sightings at Audobon Canyon.

Those are beautiful poems and Hazen's memories of the great eastward migration across Arkansas also went straight to the heart of the imagination.

As close as we'll ever get to that kind of brilliant flight.

Anonymous said...

Looking at these photos has made me all the more jealous of my in-laws for the trip they are this very moment enjoying at Lac du Der, for the peak autumnal migration season.

aditya said...

Great poems and great pictures all around! Delightful. And who is he who doesnt love cranes.. Wonder if you know about the Demosoille cranes we have coming over here every winter. They have to cross the mighty Himalayas.. That is no mean task to perform.

(Skip to around 3:25 for the demosoilles although the entire video is a marvel beginning with an incredible opening shot. But not the best quality I’m afraid…)

another vid with a much better quality here,