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Paper Cranes and Poets

December 27, 2009

I am staring at the pressed wings of a paper crane that I found in an old notebook. I trace my finger over the folds and creases of this origami bird that someone gave to me at a coffee shop once and remember. I was sitting there, reading a book, and suddenly this paper crane dropped onto my table. I looked up to see someone quickly leave and recognized that it was a guy who had been sitting a few tables away from me. I didn’t even have time to say thank you before he was gone.

There was no phone number, no ulterior motive. It was just a bird; what one of my favorite professors in college would have called a “senseless act of beauty.” I wonder now, perhaps a bit foolishly, if somehow this person knew that birds are my favorite? Probably not. But every time I run my fingers over the wings of this simple, folded piece of paper, I feel beautiful and loved. I look at it and remember that every tiny fold was done with a desire to make some small, blonde girl he didn’t know smile; some girl he couldn’t have known would find that bird three years later and would still smile.

I will always keep this bird pressed between pages scrawled with notes from Pablo Neruda and N.T. Wright, sermon notes, taped postcards and pictures that feel like so long ago. It belongs amongst the intimacy of all these lovely thoughts and truths; I will always need to look at this crane and glimpse beauty.

“The poet is in a sad state of wanting and not being able. He hears the flow of great rivers, passing by in silence, with no one else to hear their music. On his brow he feels the coolness of the reeds, swaying in their No Man’s Land. He wants to feel the dialogue of the winds that tremble in the moss…he wants to penetrate the music of the sap running in the dark silence of huge tree trunks…he wants to press his ear to the sleeping girl and understand the Morse code of her heart…he wants…but he cannot.” – Federico Garcia Lorca (1928)

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