Mom showed sandhill cranes to me

graphic by Julia Hedges

outside our hotel in Florida on vacation to see her brother

and his wife as we watched them, the cranes, preen in grass

the color of sandhill cranes. The way she named them,

the sandhill cranes, was so beautiful, I learned serendipity.

I remember these sandhill cranes bending their knees in

dry grass tilting toward

their southern home

atop a windswept hill. I took a step or two

toward them and the closest few moved their eyes with me.

In turn, my skittish

head spun to Mom, who saw what they could do for me

and so told me to approach them.

Project calm, she may have said;

the vacation required some

funny calm, her sister-in-law

defending televangelists at dinner and her brother lapping wine.

Their Christmas Tree was nonetheless lovely.

And since I had just learned about that special grove

of aspen trees in Colorado with all

roots connected, I wondered

whether their Christmas Tree

was connected to the sandhill crane grass

and knew of the sandhill cranes skittering

through it and away from me and my mom,

but not before the tree knew of my steps

toward the sandhill cranes, and hers toward me, organisms

so we claim to be.