Preparation is the art of leaving lines in:
before you can make a crane you must
invert the valley, low right to high left.
Then you must base the bird, pulling
inside out, outside to middle, and up.
Flip. Repeat. Crease her legs.
Reverse the fold. Define her neck,
define the tail, run the bone knife flat.
Dip each wing down and pull them
apart, flattening her back. If she means
to stay by your dinner plate, press your
mouth to the belly and push the air in.
If she means to fly, grip her head and tail,
pull so she flaps in the sky of your palm.
If she’s good luck, thread a sharp needle
and hang her with her thousand sisters.
When she laughs it is only a crab scuttling
the length of her gullet. When she cries
it is only the weeping of rice against stone.
“Making the Crane” was drafted as part of the April 2007 NaPoWriMo project, for which we can all thank (and blame) the poet Maureen Thorson. This poem began as a simple and oddly accurate transcription of the steps necessary to fold a crane from paper. Upon request, the author can also make origami flowers, jumping frogs, and water bombs.