Wintering Sandhill Cranes
by Marilyn Westfall

Driving farm-to-market roads
as evening spills its mauve

in the shallow furrows of fields,
you’ll see a mirage,

if lucky, a haze of beige and gray
where cotton lint clumps

like snow and stalks jut
like quills. Pause on the gravel shoulder,

ease your truck door
open. Northern gusts will

nip your ears, but you’ll hear
murmurs—flute and piccolo,

percussive stutters, rattling
croaks—like orchestral tuning

that crescendos as figures
thrust up, helter-skelter, flailing

skyward. Flocks of cranes,
at twilight, wing to a sheltered lake

fifty miles away, fading
while you strain to listen.

Illya's Honey Literary Journal

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