‘Night Crane’ by Allison Hedge Coke and Travis Hedge Cokeby Allison Hedge Coke and Travis Hedge Coke
sponsored by Kearney HUB & Kearney Dawn Rotary
photography courtesy of Diana Dake

Having had the great privilege of working with the Sandhill Cranes on the Platte River, on the great American Savannah right here in the Platte River Valley, we were often moved by the spectacular migration flurry, council, and kettling and moreover by the wondrous nightly gathering within the shallows wherein the cranes find solace and protection in its braided waters. The luscious dark purple hues of night and soft sheen of moonlight, typically coming to fullness right around the time of the major migration swell, filled us with distinct consideration for and attention to honoring the cranes in all their majesty with a portrayal of one crane held in the stillness of night and reflecting the purples, blues, blacks, and rose of night’s careful watch on the river under the ever migrating constellations above.

The cranes have returned to this place for 45 to 60 million years, leaving impressions upon peoples along the migratory route for tens of thousands of years, including impressions replicated in societal influence, cultural nuance, expression, and language. The great movement of the cranes, the subtle patterns, markings, and imprints are imitated throughout numerous cultures in story, song, dance, cultural approach, contemplative spiritualness, and endow not only oral traditions, but written ones, as people with historical relationships to cranes, to crane culture, have long appointed the relative clans as scribes. Evidence of this is rich in the long, long history of rock art, hide and handiwork, and birch bark scrolls. In respect of this long lived alliance, we were moved to honor this history with poems composed upon the crane’s open wing and base; poems relishing in the appearance of the cranes in night, night as a crane, and the constellations calling us to the waters to peer into night and into the livelihood of this living monument of longevity, endurance, resilience, and brilliance we feel fortunate to behold. Under the wing of sky, our crane returns to stand within the Platte, mirroring our world, our horizons, in the quiet cull of gathering grace and with her chortle calls night over us until we, as people, glisten.

Car paint is the primary medium to focus attention to potential affiliated environmental hazards for the cranes, thus for us, as we are all in this world together, in the beauty.

Allison Adelle HedgeCoke holds the UNK endowed Paul and Clarice Kingston Reynolds Chair of Poetry & Creative Writing and is the Senior Editor of the Platte Valley Review. Her five authored books include: Dog Road Woman (American Book Award) and Off-Season City Pipe (poetry) from Coffee House Press; Rock Ghost, Willow, Deer, (memoir) from the University of Nebraska Press; and Blood Run, (free verse-play) from Salt Publications. She has edited eight additional volumes. Recent visual art shows include Eastern Carolina University Joyner Library Gray Gallery, Pitt County Arts Council Emerge Gallery, Primitive Edge Gallery, and the Institute of American Indian Arts faculty show, Santa Fe. Allison Hedge Coke has edited eight additional collections. She came of age working fields, waters, and working in factories. MFA VC, PPAC EHAW, AFA IAIA.

Author of the chapbook, Fragments of a Lesser, Travis HedgeCoke has read from New York City to Amman, Jordan, his visual art has been displayed from Los Angeles to Kyoto, and his writing has been featured in Yellow Medicine Review, Many Mountains Moving, The Lumberyard, and many other fine places. He co-founded and edits Future Earth Magazine and is an Associate Editor for the Platte Valley Review and adjunct lecturer at UNK. MFA UCR, BFA NMU, CalArts Alumnus.

Kearney HUB & Kearney Dawn Rotary

Leave a Reply