Old Crane Woman has built her nest. There, in the old oak tree by the waterfall. A nest built in the heart of chaos. A nest made from the gifts of the land. Old Crane Woman has walked the land all year, collecting the things she needs to make her nest.
Old Crane Woman is laying an egg. It’s hard work, laying an egg; today, Old Crane Woman doesn’t have a lot to say. She is simply focused on her egg. She’ll sit on it till it hatches; she’ll guard it with her life. These are difficult times. Sometimes, your life is necessary. What would you guard with your life? Old Crane Woman asks. What would you give, and what would you lose? And who are you guarding it from?
I am always watching
the single heron at its place
alone at water, its open eye,
one leg lifted
or wading without seeming to move.
It is a mystery seen
but never touched
until this morning
when I lift it from its side
where it lays breathing.
I know the beak that could attack,
that unwavering golden eye
seeing me, my own saying I am harmless,
but if I had that eye, nothing would be safe.
The claws hold tight my hand,
its dun-brown feathers, and the gray
so perfectly laid down.
The bird is more beautiful
than my hand, skin more graceful
than my foot, my own dark eye
so much more vulnerable,
the heart beating quickly,
its own language speaking,
You could kill me or help me.
I know you and I have no choice
but to give myself up
and in whatever supremacy of this moment,
hold your human hand
with my bent claws.
From Rounding the Human Corners, Coffee House Press.