The Crane Wife

“‘The Crane Wife’ is a story from Japanese folklore. I found a copy in the reserve’s gift shop among the baseball caps and bumper stickers that said GIVE A WHOOP. In the story, there is a crane who tricks a man into thinking she is a woman so she can marry him. She loves him, but knows that he will not love her if she is a crane so she spends every night plucking out all of her feathers with her beak. She hopes that he will not see what she really is: a bird who must be cared for, a bird capable of flight, a creature, with creature needs. Every morning, the crane-wife is exhausted, but she is a woman again. To keep becoming a woman is so much self-erasing work. She never sleeps. She plucks out all her feathers, one by one.”

—CJ Hauser, “The Crane Wife.” The Paris Review. July 16, 2019.

2 thoughts on “The Crane Wife

    1. It sounded like she might have been acting more Hunca Munca. Yet, you can’t let mothers in-laws (or any family) define your relationship.

      I felt for everyone involved in the piece. The man, as described, is a bit of a douche canoe. But, perhaps he’s never been in love. He clearly doesn’t know what he wants from a relationship, if we are charitable and assume he doesn’t have some kind of cluster B personality disorder.

      All of which is true of her as well. At least she was bold enough to get out before years had past. Not everyone is that lucky.

      Agree it’s a lovely piece.

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