The Maguari Stork

He bends his neck back all the way till his head
touches his back— such acrobatic prowess
I've not seen anywhere in man or beast.
Then with a loud screech, he plunges his beak

to the ground as if spearing a hidden worm.
Ofttimes that beak pokes out of the fence
piercing a giant leaf of a nearby plant
or shrub that I could almost hear them cry.

When he approaches me with his hunched back,
I motion with my cupped hands "Higher! Higher!"
and he stretches up his neck upright
as if I were a symphony conductor.

When the zookeeper comes inside his cage
to clean some foliage, the stork backs him
near the tree with two vultures, and then
returns to perform more acrobatic feats.

Coming back to the zoo a month later,
I find the stork near closing time at dusk.
This time he does not respond to any of
my promptings appearing tired or asleep.

I begin to sing my sacred windsong—
"Whoo, Whooh, Whoo, Whoo, Whooh!"
and stomp my feet like Bacchus on grapes to
a Hopi dance chanting "Heh Ye! Heh Ye!"

Staring at me with those black beady eyes,
he screeches aloud, bends his head to touch
his back and spears his beak towards me.
My friend says "You've got him all worked up!"

As we were leaving, the stork follows us
to the other side of the cage. I glance
back to see those giant wings spread out
to a flurry of wind— song of white & black

flying to the topmost branch of a tree,
his surprise parting gift to me that day.
Often I think of him back home in Brazil
an elder guide to a flock of storks

or in Attar's Conference of the Birds as
the Hoopoe sharing ancient wisdom with all.
And like The Adventures of Nils, I'm lifted up,
reborn and refreshed by the Maguari Stork.

               — Peter Y. Chou
                    Mountain View, 1-20-2007

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© Peter Y. Chou,
P.O. Box 390707, Mountain View, CA 94039
email: (1-20-2007)