How to Serve a Sandhill Crane

Yesterday’s teepees watched,
Their ill-used, tawdry facades rising
To purchase a collective forgetfulness,
As we tumbled from the van, gasping
In the freer air of a stifling August;
Weighted by undeclared baggage,
Tacit effects of a fortnight’s packing.
Ben stalked away to find his center.
I turned to dinner, buried beneath a
Vacation’s encumbrances; exhumed
Pungent whitefish, remnant cucumber,
Uneaten cream cheese—the residue
Of a then-hopeful, if tardy, departure.
Tautly attuned to this meager repast,
Heedless of serpentine necks, spear-like
Beaks, stately birds-turned-beggars
Advanced with haughty supplication,
Angling for a catch. Ben alighted,
Pinions flapping dominantly, upon
The picnic table to protect this
Scanty fare. Absurdity broke
Tension to laughter over unseemly
scavengers. We dined on crumbs
of misadventure, beneath monoliths
Hungry for reparation. Nourished
By unexpected joy, in accidental
Communion with a starved wilderness.