Today's poem is by Debora Greger

Domestic Manners of the Americans

I.  In the Pasture

       Look into the sunlight
skimming the dew as if this were the Gulf.
       Ignore the cows
standing as still as sea stacks,

       waiting to be fed
by their student keepers, who’ve overslept.
       To the university pasture
in the middle of town, flock sandhill cranes

       escaping Michigan.
A big gray corps de ballet breaking formation,
       they strut and flap,
bounce and rattle. Then suddenly,

       the cranes seem smaller,
no longer silvery. Rising above all this,
       keeping their company
but never lifting his voice, there being no other

       of his kind to call,
looms a bird so rare I thought I’d never see it,
       except on paper:
the tallest bird in North America.

       Far from the fence,
almost to the trees that hide the houses
       crowding around
a last open space—look, a whooping crane.


II.  In the Trees at the Alligator Farm

Hats in a shop window left over
       from the lost age
of millinery—look, egrets are nesting.
       They fan their plumes

to impress a female. I’m impressed
       by how she clings
to a branch as he leaps to her back,
       the whole tree almost

brought to its knees. But, at its crown,
       a rectory of wood storks
refuses to be shaken. Their woody beaks
       clack prehistoric approval.

A flock of male photographers staggers by,
       each lens longer
than the one before, all pointed—toward what?
       Look, two eggs mock

the color of sky reflected in the weedy water.
       Part lint, part craw,
a nestling waits for its silky mother
       to land, to lower

the long rope of her slender neck,
       and, in dainty waves,
choking, regurgigate the rich black bile
       of family happiness.


Copyright © 2007 Debora Greger All rights reserved
from Southwest Review
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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