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Claire Keyes

Do this: fly to Albuquerque, rent a car,
drive south about a hundred miles, take a left

towards the Rio Grande and Bosque del Apache.
Bring your binoculars, not to view the Apaches—

were there any likely to be seen from a polite distance,
but to observe sandhill cranes and snow geese

wintering along the canals in the world’s loveliest sanctuary,
its mountain backdrop drifting towards the sky.

Don’t think about wily Geronimo, captured at last,
shipped away from his tribal lands to Florida.

If your mind must wander, remember him fierce.
Give thanks to our government for one thing done right,

these acres, this sanctuary open to nothing but sky
and birds: cormorants, pin-tail ducks, marsh hawks.

Their refuge is this fertile plain, its harvest remnants
of corn, wheat berries, alfalfa. You need do nothing

but sit quietly and watch snow geese preen and court.
Mainly they feed, feed, and feed some more, their trip

from the Arctic much longer than yours, more arduous
and wired into their brains for millennia. So eat

your sandwiches, sip from your thermos and pay homage
to creatures whose patterns are deeper than the schemes

of men: the ranchers, developers. When a hawk ventures
too close, watch the snow geese lift off, the flock shaping

and reshaping as tagalongs enter, shifting spots of white
swinging out like strands of pearls, luminous.