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 several inches
as if I were a symphony conductor.

When the zookeeper comes inside his cage
to clean some foliage, he chases him away
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 at all to
my promptings as if he were tired or asleep.

I begin to sing my sacred windsong—
"Whoo, Whooh, Whoo, Whoo, Whooh!"
and stamp my feet to some Indian dance
chanting "Heh Ye! Heh Ye! Heh Ye!"

Staring at me with those black beady eyes,
he screeches aloud, bends his neck 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
as he lifts off to a flurry of wind

flying to the topmost branch of a tree,
his surprise parting gift to me that day.
Often I think of him perhaps as a guide
of a flock in the Brazilian rain forest

or in Attar's Conference of the Birds,
an elder sharing ancient wisdom with all.
And if you wish to meet a sage, just visit
San Francisco Zoo and the Maguari Stork.

               — Peter Y. Chou
                    Mountain View, 1-18-2007

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© Peter Y. Chou,
P.O. Box 390707, Mountain View, CA 94039
email: (1-18-2007)