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Linda Hogan

First Language

The water here is different every moment.
It is a place of everything changing,
even the sounds.
Some call them changers of language
tellers of stories.
I say they were here the first day of sky creation
when one of our many gods said or thought,
let there be infinite sky
and creatures with wings,
a red setting sun of feathers
over the golden eye
as if to disguise what is seen,
all of them now looking dark,
as if they believe they are hidden,
settled together for the night
where they will be
tall ones standing
noisy and singing,
new ones arriving from the four directions,
from the horizon
as if up from the ground
instead of from the sky,
the long neck of the planet
crying out, ancient beginnings.
Here they come. Listen.
Coming near to us.
Here they come, gathering,
standing close to us,
speaking out to us
all together,
island of crane,
all one mind,
our first language.



The Sandhills

The language of cranes
we once were told
is the wind. The wind
is their method,
their current, the translated story
of life they write across the sky.
Millions of years
they have blown here
on ancestral longing,
their wings of wide arrival,
necks long, legs stretched out
above strands of earth
where they arrive
with the shine of water,
stories, interminable
language of exchanges
descended from the sky
and then they stand,
earth made only of crane
from bank to bank of the river
as far as you can see
the ancient story made new.