From the Archives: “Self-Portrait with Crane” by Lory Bedikian

On road trips, no coastal fog rolling in
Brings me the sea gull or sandpiper

shifting from water to sky,
but the common Armenian crane

who treks across the Atlantic,
breaks through California clouds,

haunts the laurels, the eucalyptus,
a message tucked in its beak.

In riffs strummed on midwestern guitars,
I can hear the duduk hound me

with its drone of apricot wood,
piping a monotone dirge, driven

like the tumbleweed. In New Mexico,
each flute player’s eyes turns

into the pomegranate seed.
Going east should bring foliage

but I see the blue eye in trees.
For days, New England’s sediment

drops into riverbeds, bends
into Gorky’s brush strokes.

No relief. Ghosts float west
from Ellis Island, crosses tattooed

on their forearms, worry beads
pebbled in their grip. Even as I watch

the world series, a fly ball
turns back into the crane.

Originally published: Spring 2008