Cranes by Peter Meinke

1316 Words6 Pages
Peter Meinke’s story “The Cranes” is mystifying story of an elderly couple spending their last moments on Earth. It is a beautiful story symbolizing life-long love, and ultimately, death. Although the narrator never actually articulates the couples’ ending we are fed a few context clues that allow us to envision their timely departure. The story depicts an aged couple sitting in their car, in the middle of a marsh, admiring the beauty of the wildlife. Amongst the tall grass, and smaller birds, there are whooping cranes. The narrator places only a pair of whooping cranes; a pair of cranes to correspond to the pair of elders. The marsh had been a place the man had frequented, and never seen the enormous, graceful birds. It is his last visit, accompanied by his wife, that they are graced with the presence of the cranes. The narrator slips in bits of foreshadowing to allow the reader to expand their imagination of the scene at hand. The first clue is set right in the beginning of the story, and is very odd. The elderly couple leans “forward in the car, and the shower curtain spread over the front seat crackled and hissed.” (Meinke 259) The presence of the shower curtain is puzzling. None of the clues are clear until the end, it seems all so odd and out of place to have a shower curtain spread over a car seat, at this point one would just assume that this an anal-retentive couple, and they like things neat and in order. It’s a pretty common thing to find plastic spread over couches, and other furniture of an elderly couple; makes clean-up easy. What a shower curtain is doing in the car could easily confuse someone into thinking that it is simply there for cleanliness; which, ironically, could actually be the reason for its being, is quickly overlooked. Other clues come into play when the wife says, “Are you all right?…Maybe this is the wrong thing.”

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