Sandhill Crane Migration

Sandhill Crane Migration…

When thearrived

I heard the haunting

cries long before

I ever saw them in flight

When they arrived

a great joy flooded my

Body and I was 

Lifted to the sky

Joining in the celebration

When they arrived

 some would stay

for winter and

I was filled with a strange

Peace I could not define

When they arrived

So many slept nearby

rising up

from the field

a drop of blood

 on their heads,

 long graceful necks 

black legs dangling


outstretched wings

lifting sturdy bodies

skyward startling

riffles and river waters

that kept them

 safe from coyotes

at night

When they arrived

a Collective Call

and something else

I could not name

tore open my heart

When they arrived

with my life

Gone so strange

and cold


I had lost direction

 Yet found kinship

among them

After they arrived

I was always listening

Each predawn


torturous winds

 could steal

their cries

I walked into

   ‘first light’

arching my neck


to glimpse

a sacred flight

After they arrived

 I loved

them with eyes

stung with tears

lacking understanding

but feeling

a holy force 

of such monumental proportion

it severed all thought

My body sang

Only presence mattered

on and on the dance went

until one day

 in early February

 one crane

 climbed into

the sky 




and others followed

and all that month

year after year

they orchestrated this

 communal Gathering

Once sky born

they fled north

the moment the sun

rose high enough

to warm them to

 spring’s seduction 

“Don’t go” a lost child cried

We loved them so

 West wind rarely slept

and yet the cranes soared

 on the thermals

to begin

their journey home

each year

  bereft  I was left  

not knowing what

was lost

beyond the Sacred Voices

  that haunted the sky

those mighty wings

 my skin shrunk

tighter and tighter

against raw bone

I could barely stand

the empty blue dome

a moon that never slept.

Nine months before

the next encounter…

(Such a long journey south

for such brief respite)

I followed

them by map as

they headed north

east and west 

Gathering for rest

Joyous encounters

as they met migrating kin

with each evening fly –down

sometimes they stayed to rest

for a time

 before rising at dawn

 to sail through the clouds

stormy weather

 was always a threat

gunshots too 

 Some flights

took them as far as Siberia

 to find

  nesting areas securely

hidden in cattails

free from predation

Once rested and fed

 maybe the two

who mated for life

 could raise one

chick to adolescence

Last year only three

small groups


the season

was short

flooded out 

by human stupidity

Yet they filled the sky

with their calls

 as I walked into

 gray, scarlet, bruised

purple, blue rose dawn 

blessed by a Grace

that preceded sight

of the small community

united, brrrring overhead

 I wondered then

 who they really were

Next a source revealed

 that these ancient ones 

  also soared far east 

to reach the

 northeastern tip

of the country

I come from

For twenty springs 

 small groups 

touched down

danced and bred

increasing their numbers, 

spent several months –

most of the year

in the lush green mountain


almost no one knew

After they left last spring 

I followed 

Voices rose up

from the ground

to guide me  

I listened for messages

beneath sound

Finding direction at last

I surrendered

to Sandhill Crane Migration

fearing nothing more

than not being able

to join them

in the North Country

that has been

persistently calling me Home

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