The Innisfree Poetry Journal
by Anne Harding Woodworth
CROWS & OAKS
Her thoughts, of sky, of the stretch
of her wings, the sheen of her feathers--
she flies without boundaries into the closed window.
Her thought, not of flopping
at the base of transparency on frozen lawn,
as if obstacles could not possibly interrupt
the swift and the free on a flight path--
like the Lancaster bomber that crashed in '43
on the same lawn. Jesus Christ, we're going down!
And all five of the king's men died.
Her thoughts, not of human hands,
not of a shoe box or machine-harvested seed,
not of liquid coming at her in a dropper.
"Her neck is not broken, thank God."
Her thought, of how to get away
from the voices. Am I hearing voices?
she wonders in the shoebox dark.
"Eat, eat." Or is that birdsong?
"Drink, and you will live to fly again."
The dropper invades her beak--
as good as a pint of ale at the pub.
He eyes me from a lifeless branch,
musters all his cronies in the forest.
"She's coming, wingless raptor's here!" he calls.
"Get to your stations, you black birds!"
I understand the language, but don't speak it,
cannot write it, do not read it. But I hear its cough,
black heaves in trees, in air in flight and meanings clear.
He urgently announces that I'm hawk, hawk, hawk,
without the decency of wings--an enemy that makes
the crows swing circular in anger and in boisterous hate.
I have no crow words to pacify,
to soothe his fellow-passerines.
No song to sing. Wingless
has no bite, no feet with which to perch.
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