Joshua Malbin307 12
St. Apt 8Brooklyn NY 11215
2birdsongs in clear air. A crane calls, a rattling, musical sound like a stick dragged along awooden fence. Another joins it, then two more, then a chorus of dozens. They stand upfrom the reeds where they’ve spent the night and gather in the pools below the tower, tallgray birds with red heads borrowed from their dinosaur ancestors. Soon there are aroundfifty, some walking about, others standing in place and staring fixedly.The man sets down his pack and takes from it a plastic mixing bowl and a full Ziplocbag. He pours the contents of the bag—seed corn mixed with mealworms—into thebowl, and he and the woman move away from it as far as the deck allows.“Do we say anything?” the man whispers. “An incantation or something?”“How should I know?” the woman says. “I read the same website as you.”The man removes his cap with his free hand, revealing a bald head. “I’m going tosay something.” He yanks the hat back into place by its brim. “O Great Crane,” heintones. “We—uh… We beseech… we ask for your humble—I mean, we humbly ask…for your—”A crane swoops up, fanning its great wings forward to lift its legs over the deck rail.It sets its feet on the deck, tucks its wings away, and adjusts its shoulders to make themlie right. It is a giant, as heavy as a swan and with a neck almost half as long, balancedon long, sturdy legs. In the morning light its gray body and red forehead seem to glow.It lowers its bill to the food and pecks it a few times, then stops and looks at thecouple with the eerie nervousness of a wild bird.“What can I do for you folks?” it asks in a high, gravelly voice.The man and woman glance at each other. The man makes a gesture that she shouldbe the one to speak.