or tsuru, in Japanese,
are signs of longevity,
good luck, and happiness.

Today is my older brother’s birthday,
in a few more months, I’ll turn 35
and outlive him.

Finishing my chores in the barn,
I think about both my brothers,
our childhoods twined together–
recalling us splashing in the bright blue
of our swimming pool, laughter bouncing
like light off the water,
Max’s smile as he’d hear our voices
calling blindly Marco and Polo.

I walk out into the cool spring evening
and hear the sweep of wind over feathers,
the throaty call of the Sandhill crane,
a huge V, a hundred birds wide,
flying into the sunset,
a gift he has sent me even now.

Poem by Mary Wlodarski

Mary Wlodarski has published poems in Water~Stone, Third Wednesday, Slippery Elm, Texas Poetry Review, Sleet, Shark Reef, Spry and elsewhere. She teaches English and Creative Writing and completed her MFA at Hamline University. She lives in Minnesota with her two horses, husband, and two young boys.