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Eric Heyne

Powers Making Echoes

Down on the Platte, where the spring cranes flock up
To migrate north, they’re working the tourists.
We’re getting there, but for now these cranes are
just local interest, their breeding plumage
ours alone when we pull off to peer
down the snowplowed mud alleys where tractors
spray grain like road salt to lure the big birds
east, away from the airport.
Who needs
another poem about these birds? John Haines’
thirty-eight words imagine the whole course
of western expansion grinding to a halt
right here in the Tanana valley. But
then we get this novel, in which
memories flock up, dance, compete for love,
preen for the last migration. The rusty
saurian call seems to come from every
direction at once. Day and night make their
equinoctial peace, and once again
we are reminded that season and song
will always have something to say, even to us.




I flew fifteen hundred miles south,
            then drove a hundred and fifty back
                       to the north, like the rebound
at the end of a poorly flung yo-yo.
But every moment of that drive felt right.

The weather here is “changeable.”
The strange coins, worth more and yet less
           than the change I know,
clink in my pocket as I walk.
It rained all the first day
            and I couldn’t find my way,
                       the compass in my head spinning wildly.
The streets don’t point north,
but at something less cardinal.
Once or twice I find myself thinking
            about how I would make a life here,
a feeling I used to have often in strange towns.

When the hills appear briefly out
            of the fog there are still
patches of snow low on the slopes,
while down here at tidewater
       daffodils are in full bloom.
My son is off to college.
No more summers and Christmas breaks
            with me, unless he chooses to come.
                      Right now I’d like to show him
the view from this hotel window,
take him out for strange food.
He’s no longer the picky eater I nagged
            endlessly, resenting the special meals
a few weeks of the year. Now he’d be game for
            the most exotic of all this imperial cuisine.

Gulls wheel and shriek over the city.
The green glass goes all around, all around.
My shiny red rental waits in the
       depths of the parking level.
Let it wait. This is no place for strangers to drive in.

When the sun breaks low through
            the clouds I figure out south,
put down my pen, and walk out into the city,
            taking advantage of the break in
                      the weather, before it closes in again.