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opened the files on the thick somnolent slab of the table and discovered inside a gift? a lesson?small origami cranes. Dozens of cranes in each file, each lighter than a flower petal, each with wings and beak precisely folded from a strong translucent paper in an array of brilliant patterns and colors that made each crane appear individual, unique. The cranes lay flat in the files, so flat you couldn’t tell there was anything but requisitions, bills of sale, lists of inventory in there, until the files were opened. At which moment the cranes mysteriously unfolded and pushed aside the stapled papers and lifted themselves and tumbled out of the files in a feathery rush, splashing out fresh against the premature tinge of pale age of the file folder and spilling out onto the dark wood of the table and then onto the floor. First the executives gasped with surprisethen in dismaythen in awe, as they scooped up rustling handsful of cranes and threw them in confectionary bursts in the air and let the cranes shower on to them, light as snowflakes. I ran down with the others to the growing sea of paper cranes, and we laughed as the cranes proliferated. We ran our hands through the gentle flocks of paper, thinking how familiar they seemed, picking them up and loosing them in streams so thick they did not seem to fall at all but remained, between our hands and the floor, suspended like rainbows. Frequent contributor Michael Erard is a writer living in Austin. 3/29/02 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 31