Wading low through marsh and grass,
quick and cautious, the crane, too,
knows this: there is a freedom
in submitting to another. Cranes mate
for life. With necks outstretched,
they take flight, a double-arrow’s stab
of silver, released and then gone.
I have searched for nourishment
in you, like a long black beak
in the earth. How was I to know
what I would find there? Every night,
we shrieked our presence to each other,
desire or grief lacquering us onto our lives
like birds on a paneled screen.
All winter long, the men built
another bridge, stacking slabs of metal
and concrete near the barrier island
where we lived. I was worried we had fallen
from each other. Silent on the beach,
we watched machines hoisted on and off
the earth. Standing one-legged in the marsh:
a crane, all steel and orange light,
binding the horizon.
What will become of us? I almost said.
Gulls wove in and out of the cables,
shrieking up and down within its stacks,
in unison, I noticed, with our breath.
It almost looked like a living thing.
Lying on my stomach, reading
Crane’s letters again, I felt a hand
behind me. Orange light pressed
the window. The hand that touched
my shoulder was yours (“I know now
there is such a thing as indestructibility”).
Your confessor, I listened for your breath
(“the cables enclosing us and pulling
us upward”), but felt only the ceiling fan,
and traffic, somewhere, chafing against
a wet street. Then, your lips on my neck
(“I think the sea has thrown itself upon me
and been answered”) before closing the book
and turning my body under yours.
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