ISSUE 5 · FALL 2010




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Copyright © 2010

Charlene Logan Burnett





Circling of Cranes

CHARLENE LOGAN BURNETT



The child’s chair faces the wall,

a paper mural: pagoda, weeping

willows, wooden footbridge,

sacred cranes in scarlet stockings,

standing on one foot in an ink-blue stream.

Behind her, the girl’s mother stirs

a sauce over the stove, still it burns.

Her father drinks another beer.

Her sister piles stones inside the girl’s pockets,

whispering they are now hers to keep.

It is said of the crane, if you ask him,

he will carry across migratory oceans

smaller birds, the souls of the dead, a lost maiden

folded between the scapulas of his wings.

The girl asks the crane a question.

He rises, his eight-foot wingspan

shuddering the walls.


That night, she places the stones, one by one,

inside the top drawer of her dresser.

She opens the window. Outside,

above the first hush of frost,

cranes circle, calling, calling.

Climbing onto the windowsill,

wearing scarlet socks, she leaps.