Oh, how a writer's brain works... I have become completely stuck on crows. Some recent, and pretty strange, events in my circle have gotten me thinking about tricksters that may be too smart for their own good. Or at least they think they're smarter than anyone else who's paying attention...? There are a million better ways to explain that.
The point is, birds are always my obsession, but now that's become even more pointed at crows. I always find it interesting to self-analyze what I get stuck on, but once I started researching some lure about crows it began to make more sense why I've been associating these events with this particular bird.
Some things I've been learning...
- Crows live in the void and have no sense of time
- They remember faces and will warn the murder if an enemy is returning
- "Seven crows for a secret never to be told"
- A crow's call from the southeast means an enemy is coming
- They can adapt to any environment and can survive almost any situation
- This came from the crow section in a book about spring; the mother crow says it when the babies hatch: "There is no joy unmixed with woe"
Somehow all of this is going to make its way into a poem, which I've been toiling over for most of the morning. But, as a writer, toiling is good. Every writer should toil often. It's usually worth it in the end.
UPDATE! I have finished a draft of the poem, so here it is:
She was a silk scarf on fire, twisting
through ivies, smoke trailing among leaves
behind her, her feet imprinting the moss and mud.
And him, watching,
dropping his feathers on the path, enticing her forward.
His wings carried him from pine to pine.
He’d stumbled once—she’d bent to sip from the stream.
Her red hips shifting, she stood to cool her face
with water cupped in her crocheted fingers--
stray drops on her bare toes perched on the rocks.
Though she smiled he saw her exhausted--
the appearance of a fox run down by hounds.
He did not know that she was a wolf
wrapped in layer upon layer of stolen, stoic fortification.
He thought he could collect her like a shining coin
only to spit her up later, naked,
less perfect, less alive—a muted token.
She’d been collecting his discarded feathers
as evidence of her power,
pieces of him no longer displayed for the audiences
he so cherished.
But the day came when her hands were full,
when the trees split and she saw them—seven crows in a circle,
hushing their secrets, beckoning her. He said,
All these days, each feather has belonged to you, my trophy.
She poured the black ribbons to the ground like
those drops of water onto the rocks.
My dear, she smirked, you’ve never had a mind for time--
it’s been years.
He did not know that for all he imagined of her,
for all of her twirling through tall grasses,
that the she-wolf grew hungrier by the day,
and had learned to leap for birds in flight.
I've been writing a lot of stories about other people and other beings lately. I decided to finally put something down on paper about my father's father. I'd been kicking around the lines "getting older doesn’t kill you. / But you do get better at fooling people" for a while. They only made sense in a poem about Pop.
The last time I saw Pop up and about, really being himself, was in September before he passed. We were out in his backyard picking grapes. Actually, I was eating a lot more than I was picking, but at least they were coming off the vines.
for my grandfather
When you died I was not there.
My father, standing in your kitchen
sorted through Readers Digest westerns,
peach preserves, junk mail.
My mother, sitting next to your bed,
checked your pulse, and it was still.
When you died it was two weeks since
the last time I saw you—just after Christmas.
You were aggravated. We’d bought you socks, but
you didn’t need any more things.
And after that, you didn’t need
to see your granddaughters again.
When you died I was not there, but
I kept thinking about picking grapes
in your backyard—how spiders built nets
between the vines and the leaves,
how they popped out suddenly, possessive
of the muted red and purple fruit I reached for
and dropped into a plastic bucket.
I kept thinking about you waking up,
saying just kidding--
getting older doesn’t kill you.
But you do get better at fooling people.
When you died you were 93--
you told me you wouldn’t wish that on anyone.
You planned your own funeral—didn’t want the fuss,
But my father dressed you in flannel and
put your reading glasses around your neck anyway.
There were pine cones and pine branches and no flowers.
When you died I was not there, and you wanted it that way.
The thing about your wine grapes was the tough skin.
You couldn’t chew them, but you could crush out all the sweetness
before discarding the shell.