Scouring the Waters
Two Poems by John Grey
Cranes arrive at the lake.
These slick birds beat back the wind
with folded feathers.
is up for useful things:
digging in the mud,
scouring the waters.
Bent like question marks,
they nod heads together and gossip:
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,
But the still
is never perfectly still.
Its head retreats
from a work of art
into its own invention.
Beak awaits instructions
from the eyes.
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.
A Boy and
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—
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 East, Dalhousie Review and Connecticut River Review, and contributes to FaithHopeandFiction.com. His latest book is Leaves on Pages.