The Crane Wife
An old Japanese story goes that a crane
fell frozen in the snow.
A poor and lonely farmer nursed her back to health.
She flew away but returned as a beautiful woman
to become his wife. Of course as these tales go,
the poor but happy couple was near starvation.
Turns out, though, she had a secret gift
for weaving fancy silk kimonos,
only the weaving took a lot out of her.
He promised she'd only have to do it once,
and he promised not to watch,
but that greedy bastard broke his promise, not once,
but twice, three times, and more.
Soon he had her weaving for every merchant in town
who flashed a few yen their way.
The money was good, but it drove him crazy
that she did it behind a screen.
One night he pushed his narrow eye against
a tiny tear in the ricepaper, only to discover
his wife was just a crane
he had once pulled from the snow.
She felt his stare as her head and long neck went down
and up in awkward rhythm, feathers flying.
She raised her ragged head from the loom,
told him it was over.
I told my kids the moral of the story is never break your promise.
Hey wait a minute, they said,
Why didn't she tell him she was a crane,
Cause what dude would marry a crane?