Faith Hope & Fiction

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Scouring the Waters features two poems by poet John Grey

Scouring the Waters

Two Poems by John Grey


Cranes arrive at the lake.

It’s winter.

These slick birds beat back the wind

with folded feathers.

Their elegance 

is up for useful things: 

digging in the mud, 

scouring the waters.

Bent like question marks,

they nod heads together and gossip:

migration tales,

the wisdom of the egg.

A gull offers a shrieking oratory.

The cranes dip and sip,

find peace with their thirst and hunger.

One stands on a solitary leg,

holds ground.

But the still

is never perfectly still.

Its head retreats

from a work of art

into its own invention.

Knees lock.

Neck stiffens.

Beak awaits instructions

from the eyes.

Another dances, 

splashes in the icy water. 

Rituals come easy to its body type. 

A couple fly up to the trees, 

prepare their nightly roost.

Cranes don’t dispute their right to be here.

They do not partition a place in their hearts for nature,

do not worry if this or that one

is the penultimate bird.

Cranes are not me.

They would never watch cranes.

Faith Hope & Fiction

A Boy and
a Stream

Thin stream skirts the foothills,

an indigent third cousin. to

the distant river that sends it

liquid care packages,

that swift, swarming current

a great civilization

compared to this simple watery village

of shallow water

and glistening gray stones.

I can stretch and step across it,

come cheek to surface

with its threadbare,

native collection of life forms—

squirming tadpoles,

buzzing blue-green dragonflies.

No one else comes here.

This is my private collection.

Like the books on my bedroom shelves,

I can open up a gleaming page

of nature any time.

It is small enough to encompass

and yet the seeds of everything

larger than itself are here.

It’s a mighty river in its own mind

like I am a man in mine.

I break the surface with my fingers 

send gentle ripples in all directions. That’s how it begins.

John Grey is an Australian poet and a U.S. resident. He recently published in Soundings EastDalhousie Review and Connecticut River Review, and contributes to His latest book is Leaves on Pages.

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