Song of the Cranes

Song of the Cranes

 by Christina Lilian Turczyn

“Be well, native land, throughout the night.

We will return, to this very place, across oceans,

across rivers.” (Ukrainian folk song—“Song of the Cranes”)

 –In memory of Paul Turczyn

One version of Zhuravli was composed for the Edmonton Chorus

after the sighting of cranes flying back to Chernobyl.


If I could dance to summon storms,

rather than the artificial tears on windows

that look out from warm homes without feeling–

eyes of those who can no longer cry,

I could read the languages of wind,

etched on rock, shale of music,

song of the cranes:

Song of my parents, song of a return

to blackest earth.


When my father was five a fortune-teller,

for the price of two eggs

predicted he would travel very far, and he followed

the open hands of rivers to another continent.

He has always been returning.


Father, it seems the ten-mile, Saturday walk

from school to your village

continues still,

but the crops are phantom

stalks of moonlight, perhaps, mere bones of dream.

It seems that my dreams are feathers

I try to follow into this life, but they drop

at the door of my body, and I cannot find you.

I have forgotten the word for home.

Copyright 2000


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