As I reclined against a tree on the lakeshore,
A silent, ethereal sandhill crane appeared at my side.
Regal, majestic, fragile.
Wide, steady yellow eyes inquiring, questioning.

On a psychic level we asked each other:
Why are you alone today? Where is your family?
Neither answered.
We looked out at slowly drifting
Clouds mirrored on calm water.

I offered a silent confession:
“On behalf of humankind, I apologize
For depriving you of the pristine wetland
In which your ancestors thrived over millions of years.
I apologize for disrupting your world.”      

Silently, eyes penetrating deeply into mine,
It answered: “We are simply the result of our mutual evolution.
Your roads, houses, lawns– your human progress
Demanded destruction of my habitat.
You and I are adapting. You and I are coexisting.
I am not angry. I forgive you.”

I offered gifts of moistened bread;
Bowing gracefully, it consumed each morsel with precision.
It offered gifts of stillness, gentle enchantment, and forgiveness.
Making my life more privileged. More beautiful.

A sandhill crane came dreamlike into my life today.
It awakened me to peace with the passing magic of its wisdom.
It stayed for awhile, then continued its measured, thoughtful journey.
And I will never, ever be the same.

–Will Walsh ©2017