Ghost Dancers

By g.l. bass

October 2010



They blend into the gold aura,

Tilted afternoon sun,

Run down across harvested corn and soy fields

They’re tall, slender, thin gray bodies move -

Ballet dancers, toe slow, slow, to toe,

Long strides that glide,

Every movement a moment of grace.

Their long beaks, sharp slanted eyes,

Waste little, take little, want little,

Only the male’s red crowns give them away,

As they glide and slide along the edge

Where golden field reaches its end,

Where dried brown reeds grow up from creek bed.

No matter how much you camouflage,

Even paint your face black as earth,

Then stalk slowly, silently, through the woods,

Bending, stopping, crawling down on all fours,

Stopping again, waiting, praying, spying,

Hiding amongst tall grass and trees,

Finally, to the field’s edge,

No matter the hunter, the sleuth,

No matter how you try to hide your intent,

You can’t get within 50 yards

And you’ve been spied.

Ghost’s with eagle eyes,

They spread their giant wings,

White laced, and brown tinged beneath,

Take a few long, graceful strides,

Then into the air they slide.

Sailing, climbing, sailing, climbing,

Off toward the sun,

Their shadows gliding across the ground.

You put your hand above your eyes,

But they’re only ghosts in the sky.

Up, up, up, within moments a mile above you.

You have to stop and think,

Did you see them at all,

Or was is just your imagination?

Shadows in golden fields ,

Now they’re gone.

Above you they circle,

They’re trumpeting so loud

You can almost read their every word,

As they fall down upon you in the afternoon sun.

Now, ghosts, they are gone.

Somewhere out there into the horizon.

Sometimes beauty is not in the standing still,

Not in the picture you thought you’d steal,

But in the getting away,

In the dance, glide and slide of the Sandhill’s ballet,

In strides, the spread of the wings,

In the trumpeting that sings,

Sometimes, beauty is in the climb,

Before your eyes, ghosts,

With wide wings sliding through the air,

Higher, higher, higher, until they’re but

Silhouettes in the sky.

So, you trade one idea for another.

You thought beauty was in the picture,

The portrait, the background.

But, as often is the case,

You learn the beauty is in the chase.

And now, so you stand, hidden at the corner of the field,

Where gray fence post and forgotten barb wire

Weary, rust and like you,

Yes like you, grow old.

You are there at the corner of the field and

The corner of time,

Hidden amongst reed, grass and vine,

You now are what’s left in that moment in time,

When Sandhills took flight and climbed beyond

Even where you can see,

Off across the marsh and farmland country,

Somewhere off, where beauty flies a mile high,

Into the horizon,

Leaving you behind,

To tend to your trail back along

This Autumn’s fence line.

cranes closer up



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