“Crane Possibly Walking on Water” by Erin Newton Wells

Ekphrastic Challenge, November 2020: Artist’s Choice


Photograph of a crane leaping at another crane behind its back

Image: “Leaping Crane” by Kim Sosin. “Crane Possibly Walking on Water” was written by Erin Newton Wells for Rattle’s Ekphrastic Challenge, November 2020, and selected as the Artist’s Choice.

[download: PDF / JPG]


Erin Newton Wells


The sky sank, again. It turned the water heavy, slow
going for a narrow leg, nothing but bone. Wings

once seemed possible but hidden now, no
way to bloom as a plunder of feathers, wings

to catch light, explode and powerfully row
upward. Nothing spoke, so sky sank, again. Wings

became merely what someone heard, a cool flow
of sails, banners, wind, freedom, such wings

as those who dream once rode beneath so
easily as shadow skims the water. Such wings

rise, their smooth primordial glide below
a seam of sky to open it, if any remembered, wings

unraveling in blue to blend with air and know
no boundary. No one moved much anymore. Wings

became a breath. Someone thought, once, to show
how it was, a buoyancy of wings,

or name what you will. Hope, maybe, or the low
whistle in dreams as they ascend. Such wings.

from Ekphrastic Challenge
November 2020, Artist’s Choice


Comment from the artist, Kim Sosin: “Reading this poem, I picture a sunset, a sky darkening to navy, and I hear thousands of wings beating and loud calls filling the sky. Anyone who has seen this phenomenon can hear the Sandhill Cranes’ trumpeting as they circle and settle in the shallow river in safety for the night, their wings folded at rest, but filled with potential. The birds dream of freedom from earthly boundaries and of buoyant flight; they dream of catching the thermals tomorrow, just as they did in primordial days, as the Sandhill cranes have been doing for 2.5 million years according to the fossil record. As morning light dances up the river, the cranes begin a hopeful dance. Will you be mine? Will you travel onward with me on our magnificent wings? Such wings.”

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