the yellowing cranes

the riverbed is cool the cranes have a yellowish belly but are beautiful nevertheless there are bleached soda cans but the logos hang strong against the California sun i sit by the reeds and watch the Chinese couple dig in the mud for long lost jewels they explain the husband is originally from Kansas she says i watch on until pitch black leathery little birds with mean diamond tinged eyes and beaks yellow like egg yolks begin to crowd around catching tadpoles one stands on a mossy Takis bag on the trail bicycles travel north to south and vice versa i only see helmets from my shivering reeds somewhere by the train yard an old trash truck backfires and the mean little black birds lift up into the sky like a flamenco dancer’s skirt my eyes pause at the rim of Dodger stadium and out of nowhere my mind drags me to the summers eating sticky juicy watermelon slices with my sister as the grown ups drank howled and listened to the game on an old radio from their army days and now i wonder if they died knowing that some day i would be leisurely sitting by these LA River reeds sipping fancy tea watching treasure hunters and fancy bicycle helmets wiz by and are the yellowing cranes the souls of our lost boys from the Hanoi Hilton

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