Crow's Song


We have been told in old stories that the crow's cry
is older than the songs of all the other birds.
Like the rent earth spitting its bile
out across a vacant, frozen space,
the cry of the crow never sings of dawn joy,
never of evening calm or dusk hush.
It is a summons to the feast of the wound,
the banquet of crushed bone, maimed limb.
It is the cry of hunger set loose to the sky.
It is the cry which jerks our ears up as if we must
fend off an indignity. A slap. A curse.


But against the new plumage of old oaks,
a green lushness like velvet,
in the morning, crisp still with dew,
a pair of black dancers cavort.
She flutters to a branch, first lower,
then upper. His wings stay ajar like
awkward, slow funeral fans, as he jumps
to a branch just above her. There he flounces.
Like shuttles of black silk, they dart
and glide through the green velvet.
The only sound is their flapping.
Dance is the other song. Our mind's ear
is just beginning to hear it.

- Don Mager