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American Life in Poetry: ‘Unlike objects, two stories can occupy the same space’ by Charles Peek

Sat., March 11, 2017, 2 p.m.

Charles Peek is a Nebraska poet who lives near that section of the Platte River where early each year hundreds of thousands of sandhill cranes pause in their migration to nourish themselves for the long flight north. There have been many poems written about the cranes, but this one reaches a little further into our lives. Peek’s recent collection of poems is “Breezes on their Way to Being Winds,” from Finishing Line Press.

Unlike objects, two stories can occupy the same space

Out along the last curve in the brick walk

the grass has begun to green,

with the freezing cold and coming snow

its certain fate.

The cranes make the same mistake,

fields of red capped heads attest their arrival

just before the worst blizzard of winter

makes it impossible to tell the field from the river.

And we, too, have known these mortal mishaps,

miscalculated our time, found ourselves out of step,

arriving too early, staying on too late,

misjudging the nearness, the vengeance of the storm.

The cranes, the grass, they tell us:

this can go on for millions of years.

Poem copyright 2016 by Charles Peek and reprinted by permission of the author. American Life in Poetry is supported by the Poetry Foundation and the English department at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. We do not accept unsolicited submissions.

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