The Function of a Wing

They arrive as red masked druids, ghost
The edge of the desolate golf course, sandhill
Cranes poised between the tall grass and oaks
Lathered in moss, a fading, this pocket of homes
Long past afternoons of stickball and smoking grills,
Hearts alert to the rhythm of clouds
Despite how loneliness drifts beside us all.
Each day’s arc is a wing, a wish hurling
Across the sky, and also time, because what is the clock
But a ship of travel we must board upon our first breath?
I have read about a girl who pinned her healing to the making
Of cranes, and how they navigate by starlight, instinct, the ancient
Maps scored inside the lace of their bones. They know how to dance.
They arrive as themselves. A newborn will curl around her mother’s
Temples in peace, a place where no harm will descend
in its poisonous light, its cell-stripping forms,
A place of quiet, and journey that is a kind of returning to love.

Copyright © 2022 by Emma Trelles. Originally published in The Cortland Review (April 2022). Used with the permission of the poet.