This week, Deep Water celebrates the new year with a poem by beloved Maine poet, performer and teacher Martin Steingesser. In “Cranes,” the poem’s speaker and his partner watch water birds, made breathless by their beauty and grace. I see this poem as the best kind of love poem: It pays homage not just to a person, and not just to an exquisite shared experience, but to time itself, to all it holds and gives as it slips ever onward.

Steingesser is author of three books of poems, “Yellow Horses,” “Brothers of Morning” and “The Thinking Heart: the Life & Loves of Etty Hillesum,” the latter also an award-winning performance work. As a performance and teaching artist, he has given presentations and taught writing workshops around the state for over 40 years.



By Martin Steingesser

for Judy


“Look at those two,” you said, two grey, wading birds so slender

they disappear when facing us. Sandhill cranes, foreheads red—


“The red so red,” you whispered, and I could feel your lips

at my ear. “He knows we’re watching,”


and your fingers traveled lightly along my arm.

Their long legs, fragile as twigs, moved slowly. “Look,” you said,


“they’re walking in step,” your breath on the back of my neck

like the easy wind scuffing the pond. We didn’t move. The Earth


breathed, and we felt held between one breath

and the next. There was the ruffled mumble of a jet overhead.


There was an egret across the pond, at the edge, like a white lily,

not even the reflection moving. A moment, we say, and there isn’t.


Megan Grumbling is a poet and writer who lives in Portland. DEEP WATER: Maine Poems is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. “Cranes,” copyright © 2015 by Martin Steingesser, was originally published in Yellow Horses (Deerbrook Editions). It appears by permission of the author.

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