Saving Cranes

Grey-Crowned Crane
head with fluffy white feathers,
dandelion for a crown,
or perhaps the exploding bubbles
of champagne that have risen
through the long, thin flute
of the neck and punctuated
the brain with a bang
ready for a life of toasting


Sandhill Crane
in unison the male and female
raise their beaks to call,
she with two words for every one
of his, and despite the vocal competition,
they dance, bowing, jumping
at one another the way junior high
boys and girls make awkward leaps
to show affection by mild aggression


Wattled Crane
Fourteen pounds and six feet tall
the wattled crane is disappearing
not just in numbers but by itself,
capable of turning sideways
and becoming lost in grain,
an Ethiopian runner
fading into a waves of heat
climbing up a mountain
where a single stalk hides
victims from extinction


Whooping Crane
this crane can whoop but also purr,
a sound of contentment
and reassurance no less than a cat,
can bark a single note
to warn no less than a dog,
but it is the whoop a mated pair
can make for which their known,
love’s holler, affection’s shout,
a whoop for a weary world
diminished more by their loss of crying

By Jeff Burt

Poems inspired by a visit to Baraboo’s International Crane Foundation in Baraboo, Wisconsin USA.