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The Whooping Crane

I wept, the cool breeze off the marsh struck my skin, turning each droplet of saline water into a miniature icicle, carving its way down my pale cheek. I bowed my head, so I did not hear the animal until it was a scant five feet away. I heard no profound noise to announce its presence, just a calm, natural swishing in the water, an extra whisper in the wind. I raised my head to see what was there, and as I did my eyes choked back the painful tears.

The grey-yellow beak glistened in the slanted afternoon light. Pink and orange rays probed the ground, as if searching for some lost and precious possession. The slim curving silhouette stood out against the cloud strafed sky. Slender black legs, mere sticks of darkness in the reeds of the pond, supported it.

I stared, shocked and amazed, at the glorious creature. Its stark white feathers were beacons to my soul. They called to that once abundant part of me. As the wind moved through them they whispered to me of gentle kisses and hugs consoling the grieved. The feathers sung their song of love, and choir like, it echoed in the hollow cathedrals of pearly bone. The tempo was kept with the beating heart, carrying the purity of the sound in its heavily laden scarlet satellites.

The tuft of black feathers near its rear added their voices in the now still air. Their deeper notes rose in the background, their rough Gregorian chanting hoisting my soul up into the air. They guided me to the last vestiges of light and beauty in the darkening sky.

But alas, even the frenzied bird song failed, and I plummeted back to reality as the Hallowed Disc sunk into the West.

Foggy tears formed in my already cloud covered eyes. As my body heaved in time with the sobs, I caught one more glimpse of the crane in the night. I felt the hope again. I realized that the hallowed Sun is not the Lord’s only agent of beauty.

The crane, with its pencil thin neck held proudly for the world to see, was the Holy Spirit in mortal form. The purity of its luminescent white feathers, the fiercely willful mask of red, and the powerful yet serene black cover of modesty blended to form Him in all his glory.

It lifted its javelin beak into the night, ready to banish all agents of darkness. And from its scarlet head it let loose a whoop of unbridled emotion. It challenged Satan himself with the purity of its note. It sung of freedom and of a sinless soul. My whole being quivered with anticipatory joy. I raised my voice and joined in. Together we sung of victory, of the overwhelming triumph of good over evil. We told the story of a lost man who found his way back home by following a white dove.

Finally we both quieted, not from exhaustion, but because we felt truly at peace. It stretched its wings out, unfolding six feet of glorious white feathers quilted in a muscled fabric. Then it leapt into the sky, the gleaming wings creaked against nothing.

I gasped for I had seen His face. Through every pattern between the feathers, His face lay ingrained, whistling, morphing the air around the beating wings. They spoke to me, telling me of peace, to love others merely to love.

I stood, doing nothing until the crane was gone. The cool mud of the marsh had long since soaked through my shoes and socks. I shook my head, coming out of my trance, and I realized my right hand was cramping.

I looked down and gasped. I had forgotten my reason for coming here, the cool metal of the grip was, by then, warmed by my hand. The black barrel was barely visible in the night. That blinding crimson haze of fury that brought me to the marsh to kill myself had melted away.

I dropped the gun, turned around and forced my feet out of the hungry, gasping mud. Then I made my way back home.




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This article has 2 comments. Post your own!

Beth said...
May 1, 2010 at 11:35 am:
I love the imagery; it touches all the senses.
 
SamH replied...
May 1, 2010 at 8:10 pm :
Beautiful imagery. Almost a prose poem until it reveals itself as a true story at the end. Excellent work!
 
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