Writers’ Weir: ‘Migration’ and ‘The Heralds’

Migration

Once more to the island,

childhood home from which they flew,

eager to be away

like bubbles in champagne,

a rising, swirling cumulus of longing.

Their small-town life a trap, they headed south.

They weren’t bluffing, they’d never return;

they’d paid their dues to that cramped and airless place.

So,

is it serendipity that these long-fledged birds return

year after year and bringing their own lively brood?

Or,

does something in this basket woven of joy, pain, surprise,

and memory beckon them again and again to the house,

the ocean, beach, and trail?

Today, they’ve flown again

sated with

pushing logs from the beach,

foraging for berries,

fishing for dinner,

soaking up sun,

crowding the table and

sleeping under one roof.

They’re away

but they’ll be back,

back to the island.

The Heralds

From deep within, our bodies quicken

to the vernal call of cranes.

Their voices in the thousands

streak the northern sky.

That trilling chorus, sharp as their bill,

pierces our dormant hearts.

They’ve come a continent away.

They’re towing summer north,

each wingbeat farther from their winter home

to rest and fatten by the spreading Midwest rivers,

fed by day and safe at night,

then press at last to tundra marsh.

Once there, they’ll dance their sweetly awkward courtship rounds,

feathers flipping, bustles bobbing until the perfect mate is found.

Too long inside, we run to scan the sky;

in gardens, pause,

enchanted.

Flying in a V

ragged or precise,

scattering, circling, reforming,

they pass and are away as if they never were.

We’re pulled behind,

stunned,

silent.

Victorious.

We look around and smile

and breathe relief.

The cranes have come,

the year has turned,

and spring

has won again.

• Bonnie Demerjian writes from her ocean home in Wrangell where she has lived since migrating from New York as a young woman to teach. In retirement she has written as journalist and then as the author of four books about Alaska’s history, human and natural. Her work has also appeared in Alaska Women Speak, Tidal Echoes, Bluff and Vine, Blue Heron Review and the Capital City Weekly.

The Capital City Weekly, which runs in the Juneau Empire’s Thursday editions, accepts submissions of poetry, fiction and nonfiction for Writers’ Weir. To submit a piece for consideration, email editor@juneauempire.com .

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