Setting Fire to the Origami Crane


Setting Fire to the Origami Crane (the one floating on Muscongus Bay) at Sunset

Who is to say which comes first, the flaming crane
or the sunset’s burst just over the horizon

and under the clouds? There are causes and causations,
an illness named bad air and another attributed to wolf

bites, neither accurate. There is the paraffin to melt,
and the folded paper resting comfortably nearby, with

a small, unopened tin of shoe polish and the sound of
tears striking newsprint. You know the myth of the

Viking burial — the burning ship laden with treasure
and the deceased clothed in all his finery. But pyres

are lighted to make ash of bodies, to ease the soul’s
transition to the heavens. Think of how disturbing

it would be to come upon the charred lumps of your
loved one washed ashore. And other myths — various

versions of the afterlife created to bend wills and
foster hope where little exists — to which have you

departed? There are no returns in your future, no more
givings, and your ashes have dispersed among the clouds

and in the water. They’ve been consumed by earth and
sky, inhaled and swallowed, digested, coughed out but

never considered for what they were. So I’ve printed
your name a thousand times on this sheet, and will

fold and launch it, aflame, watching the letters that
comprise you, once again, rise and float, mingle

and interact, forming acquaintances, new words,
other names, partnerships, loves, ascending to the end.


This was written for the August 2015 Tupelo Press 30/30 Challenge. To read the story behind the poem’s title (which I was unaware of), you might visit Jilanne Hoffman’s blog.

38 thoughts on “Setting Fire to the Origami Crane

  1. This captures a lot of the emotions I felt when my sister died three years ago, the fragile sense of hope that some part of her has gone on to another life, the confrontation with the uncompromising reality that all that’s left here is a body, and the wish to find some means of commemorating the gift to us that her life had been.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Beautiful, Bob! And the story behind it – fills me with such tenderness for the world and all in it. You have a gift for tuning in, pulling essentials from thin air – I always see more and see differently through your words. Thanks!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I love this poem dearly. You are a magician. Thank you for linking to my blog! I’ve been absent there, trying to get the book publishing side of my life in order, if such a thing is possible. But I do intend to get back to the blog soon and back to my regular blog reading. Your work inspires me so much! Thank you!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Sound of tears striking newsprint~

    I say, it bring me on tears..
    What if, we reach the time we are going to leave this world and our family will huddled at one place…
    Remembering you, and how you shared your life with them and your unconditional love and they had to accept it…
    Even it was too painful.
    And they hug to each other, sharing wine and setting up camp fires under the dark lovely moonless night and then they cry and laugh and holding each other arm with love that they had to repay what makes you special and had to dealt your final exit.
    That they placed a special portion on their hearts…and shared your legacy to the next generation.
    Another great piece you written Sir Okaji.
    A poem to remembers…

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Robert this is really beautiful. I returned today knowing I had only begun to read it yesterday. On first reading I was so taken (mesmerized) by the title and first three lines… the rest was just a blur. I trust I will return to it again.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Pingback: Setting Fire to the Origami Crane — Highwaypay | Highwaypay

  7. Pingback: Setting Fire To The Origami Crane – Highwaypay | Highwaypay

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