Sometimes a postcard message is as much inspired by the image on the postcard as a message to another person. I sent this postcard and message below some time in April of 2009 from my home in Fairbanks, Alaska, to Suyhou City, P.R. China. Jinlin was the user name (no longer used) of a postcarder acquaintance met through Postcrossing, an online international postcard exchange project. At 150 words, this was a relatively long message for the reverse half-side of this 4 by 6 inch postcard. A typical postcard message In English runs less than 100 words. I had to use my fountain pen with a fine nib to squeeze all the words in. I consider my message to Jinlin an ekphrasis -- a fancy Greek word that means art inspired by art, typically poems (in this case a prose-poem) based on a work of visual art.
Sandhill Crane in flight. Creamer's Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge,
Fairbanks, Alaska. Photo by Ted Swem. Alaska Bird Observatory:
To Jinlin in Suzhou,
Suyhou City must be incredible. How lucky for us who live in magical places. I imagine floating the canals, wandering the expansive gardens, strolling past the new museum, pondering how much blood and sweat civilization requires to flower. I hope you enjoy this Sandhill Crane postcard. After the long, bleak and bitter cold days of winter, our heads tilt and ears open as flowers for the sun hungry for spring light. These magnificent birds, with their sweeping wing span and prehistoric call --- more a guttural crank ---, ride on lofty winds, some, all the way from Mexico. They give us pause to ponder what is elemental, what is winged, what is astonishing, what is simultaneously primitive and modern yet natural and supernatural in every creature.
I pray many blessings for you and your young son, Kris