Dark clouds hang above the muddy river, I hear
the hefty wings flapping, and a rattling, rolling,
trumpeting song— a sandhill crane in the air.
Blood pumps his crimson-capped head
scarlet. His extended wings open
toward her, the crane in front of him.
With big, scaly legs and feet, she steps
forward, barely splashing. She’ll stand
in this icy water until dawn.
His excitement, her well posed
quietness, tune into my body,
ignite the sun in me.
My red cap is heart-shaped as hers.
I want to toss weeds with them,
preen, bow, hop & leap into the air
as how they’ll mingle with each other.
This marsh will soon be a memory.
For now, I’ll forget everything else.
Xiaoly Li is a poet and photographer in Massachusetts. She is a 2022 recipient of the Massachusetts Cultural Council Artist Fellowship Grant in Poetry. Her poetry has appeared in Spillway, American Journal of Poetry, PANK, Atlanta Review, Chatauqua, Rhino, Cold Mountain Review, J Journal and elsewhere; her work has been featured on Verse Daily and in several anthologies. She has been nominated for Best of the Net three times, Best New Poets, and a Pushcart Prize.