Jayne Marek, USA
After Suzanne Eller’s Constrained Crane
If there are wings, let them be strong, dark-burnished as oxidized metal
that was pulled from earth, hardened with fire, spread to the air.
If a neck and head, build them for hunting, rifle-long, bow-flexible,
so the bird’s glance can follow the small fish scurrying downstream,
its beak ready as a dart. If there are legs narrow as dowels, if
there are feet, webbed by flesh, let them not be netted by the trash
this world throws into waterways, fields, roadsides,
the paths of all creatures. Let those nets be soft weeds concealing
the padded toes, claws—hooks of iron open for the catch.
If there is a tail, flare it to balance the bird in its watchfulness.
It will lean into its meditation of finding food in the rivulets
that ring its ankles with strings of bubbles. And if
a cloak of feathers, paler along the breast, make those rugged
and beautiful, to decorate, to wrap the hunter’s frame.
Bound by its own body, its own needs, this bird can look
a human in the eye, stand among the world’s discards
and, whether about to live or die, always show its intention,
its violent nature and openness at the core, that,
for the sentimental, signals where a heart would be.
Jayne Marek’s poems and art photographs appear in One, Light, Grub Street, QWERTY, The Cortland Review, Slipstream, The Lake, Stonecoast Review, Spillway, Women’s Studies Quarterly, Sin Fronteras, Notre Dame Review, and elsewhere. Her most recent books are In and Out of Rough Water (2017) and The Tree Surgeon Dreams of Bowling (2018). Twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize, she won the Bill Holm Witness poetry contest and was a finalist for several other awards. A former professor of literature and Indiana Master Naturalist, she now studies the natural history of the Olympic and Quimper Peninsulas in Washington state.