explaining a thousand cranes

so this is how you fold a thousand cranes:
one at a time. (approaching three a day,
over the course of one year in the life
of a boy with simply not much else to do.)

it means as much as you want it to mean
by saying which, maybe i did not mean
as much as i should have—which is to say,
there was no conscious love in any one crane!

there was no moment when i, sleep-deprived
and bleeding from a dozen paper cuts
looked out into the night and visualised
your face—and pressed on for just one—more—fold!

even the sum converged to arbitrary:
towards the end it seemed i could do more, or less—
the main significance of the number at the last
was that they do not sell glass jars that size in gift shops

it wasn’t love, in the sense that one folds ‘love’
like a fresh-cracked egg into the heart of each crane,
more like a hobby or habit to adopt or quit
learning to smoke, perhaps, or knit.

just something that the fingers do, as the lungs
do, as the liver does. one does not mean a thing like that.
i folded a thought of cranes so deep within my mind
i do not even remember folding one.

by Joshua Ip
from making love with scrabble tiles (2013)


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