Spirits among us have departed--friends,
relatives, neighbors: we can't find them.
If we search and call, the sky merely waits.
Then some day here come the cranes
planing in from cloud or mist--sharp,
lonely spears, awkwardly graceful.
They reach for the land; they stalk
the ploughed fields, not letting us near,
not quite our own, not quite the world's.
People go by and pull over to watch. They
peer and point and wonder. It is because
these travelers, these far wanderers,
plane down and yearn in a reaching
flight. They extend our life,
piercing through space to reappear
quietly, undeniably, where we are.
"Watching Sandhill Cranes" by William Stafford, from Even In Quiet Places. © Confluence Press, 1996.