goodness runs wild everywhere
was a lament I heard on my visit to Nebraska.
You could have seen the astonishing spectacle
of the sandhill cranes,
thousands of them
feeding and even dancing
on the shores of the Platte River.
There was no point in pointing out
the impossibility of my being there then
because I happened to be somewhere else,
so I nodded and put on a look of mild disappointment
if only to be part of the commiseration.
It was the same look I remember wearing
about six months ago in Georgia
when I was told that I had just missed
the spectacular annual outburst of azaleas,
brilliant against the green backdrop of spring
and the same in Vermont six months before that
when I arrived shortly after
the magnificent foliage had gloriously peaked,
as she is called,
having touched the hills with her many-colored brush,
a phenomenon that occurs,
like the others,
around the same time every year when I am apparently off
in another state,
stuck in a motel lobby
with the local paper and a styrofoam cup of coffee,
busily missing God knows what.
The Sandhill Cranes of Nebraska by Billy Collins
On vacation I witnessed
birds and whales
that had traveled farther than I.
They take with them
their memories, their songs
and the sacred longing
that guides their migrations,
that leads me
in all my rambling,
the silent knowing
that seems like hunger,
seems like not knowing,
the sure desultory path
that is life, the way
that is the blessing,
the holy wandering
to life that awaits,
always toward you.