One thousand cranes take flight
and there is a sudden silence
as the cat stares up, bidding them farewell.
We barely stop to notice,
despite the rainbow of colors
replacing the clouds, even the sun
seeming to pause in wonder.
Two thousand hands made this
happen, one person, unrelenting,
knowing anything less
would be nothing at all.
Each crane dips its head
in appreciation for its freedom,
no longer trapped
in a two-dimensional prison.
He believes he would like the ocean,
imagines standing on the shore watching
as the waves wash up to his feet,
and as quickly retreat, smoothing the sand.
He has never seen the ocean, only
ponds and on large lake, but he
imagines the ocean is just
a giant lake with bigger waves.
He would like to see the fog
roll in erasing the horizon,
shrouding the seas in a deeper mystery.
He recalls standing in the bar
of the Grand Hyatt in Tokyo
late one night as the fog settled
over the city, and only the lights
of the tallest buildings
seemed afloat on endless sea.
Each day he stops briefly
in the small park along the path,
and picks up a pebble which he tucks
in the coin pocket of his jeans.
There it rests until he comes
the pond where he sits on the shore
staring out into the heart of the water.
He pulls the pebble and tosses it
in a high arc, always trying to land it
in the center of the pond, where he
can watch the ripples slowly proceed
toward him, and hitting the edge,
echo back toward the center, diminished.
This morning he followed his pattern,
sat on the edge and let fly the pebble
which landed squarely, but this day
there were no ripples, just the mirror
still surface of the pond, and he
began the slow walk home, knowing
he would never visit this pond again,
for he was now on a very different path.
He would rather be from somewhere.
Where he is or is not going
matters very little to him now,
he will be where he will be, will go
where he needs or wants to go
or is taken, and when there,
that is where he should be, so
being there is no problem.
But until recently he was from
nowhere and that is not
a comfortable place, it is
really no place at all.
Now, at least, he is half
from somewhere certain, and
the other half at least fits
on a small portion of a map
and somewhere, he will gladly
tell you, is so very much
better than nowhere, for somewhere
can be found if you have the right map.
He finds it hard to believe
that no matter which path
he chooses, and he has chosen
so very, very many over time,
each path seems always
to lead him to one particular place.
The place always seems the same,
here, though he knows it should
be different each time he arrives.
It frustrates him no end, but
he is growing concerned
that one day a path will
lead him to somewhere
that is not here, and he will
have utterly no idea
where to go from there.
The hardest part of getting old
isn’t the near constant aches and pains
but the senses that slip away,
replaced by an ever deeper truth.
She says to really play the blues
on piano you must have Seoul
and listening to her, you agree,
although you aren’t sure if hers
is Gangnam-gu or Jung-gu, but
the distinction is a fine one,
and she plays with a heart and voice
that you could only hope to find
in Insa-dong, recalling history
and hardship in each note, each run.
It is only later you realize
she said soul, but hers was
forged in Seoul, so it is really
a difference without meaning.
She likes to tell him that he
came from a small village in Lithuania.
He prefers to remind her that he
was born in the District of Columbia
which has never been mistaken
for a small village in Lithuania,
although he knows he could find
several who speak Lithuanian there.
And, he points out to her, that would
only be half the story, for he is certain
the father he has never met
never set foot, genetic or actual,
anywhere in Lithuania.
Still, in his dreams, he can sit
with the grandfather he never met
and they will converse in Lithuanian.