In the marsh and the muck and the bug-ridden
brown of the swamp, in the day’s first gray
and mosquitoes’ hum, a crane suspends himself,
bold and bleached white as any bone
left under desert sun.
On a spindle twig, a spider-web thread
of a leg, watching the impossible murk
at his feet. It stares its arrow head down,
still as any anvil, sharp as any ice pick.
He is white beyond the white of any bone
bleached under any desert’s sun.
Impossibly white amid the black
slime of a roadside swamp.
From my plastic seat on a rattling bus, I remember my wife’s
sister will marry next weekend, and her brother brings to the table
a girl grating on the family. In front of his ex and in front of their child,
in front of gossips and grandmothers, before the wide eyes and mouths
of all, he wants to bring her to his sister’s wedding.
I should speak with him.
It’s muck I’d rather stay out of.
My parents are crying again, something
my brother said to them. Grandchildren.
In-laws. Grudges. Hurt buried deep.
Years of it.
I should speak to him too.
Students are failing, one may be cutting
her wrists, and their homes may be crumbling
the same moment they should be analyzing
parts of a cell and revising compositions.
But this morning, as the sun rises and I ride a clanky
bus to work, I watch the white crane suspend
himself alone and bleached
whiter than any bone
left years under desert
suns revolving hot and white.
the same sun burning now through
stifling haze, above the mud of a hundred
bullfrogs gurgling back to muddy furrows,
nightly songs croaked of soiled life spent,
the existence of wallowing in black
slime the bleached crane also feeds in.
My wife’s sister will marry next weekend,
and her brother brings a girl and turmoil.
I should speak with him,
But I’m watching the white crane swing
his beautiful white limbs in the humid haze
of another day’s sticky dawn. My mother cries
and my father seethes over words said
and unsaid with my brother. Those students
should be in their cars even now, headed to
the school they hate or could maybe save them.
I should speak with them. And with them. And with them.
Then the crane crinkles and pops
out from the slime; It skims
a white smooth cloud over the brackish
surface until it disappears in the vines
and my bus clatters across
cobblestones to my classes.
The crane somehow stays white
despite a life standing in slime.
I need to call him
maybe this afternoon.