Saturday, March 9, 2013

From the Empirical Archives: The Conference of Crows by Francis Opila

The Conference of Crows 
Francis Opila
PHOTO: Maxwell Hamilton

Originally published in the September 2012 issue of Empirical

As dusk settles over the urban canopy
We gather again in that lively old oak
All my aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, the grandbirds
Hundreds of us
Do you ever wonder
what it is that we caw about?

Conversation a bit raucous and bold
All about the day’s travels:
the views, the mountain peaks,
the snow fields, the plow fields,
the urban sprawl, the wetlands

Mobbing that horrid hawk on the forest fringe
Playing chicken in the road
you should’ve seen my brother
The sky fight between the eagle and the osprey
and how I got the fish

All the gory guts, scrumptious carrion,
dumpster diving for McDonald’s fries,
cheese puffs on the roadway, pizza crust,
that watermelon, spitting out them seeds,
raided the squirrel’s nut cache, did you?
that’s where I’m flyin’ in the morn
Where did you get that foul cigar butt?

O grace for Cawie’s broken wing –
she may not carry on, but we love her so
Who’s willing to sit with her tomorrow?
Yes, many
Her spirit soars with us

How do you pray in a murder of crows?
Sometimes it’s call and response
Sometimes we wail with heartache
Sometimes we follow the woodpecker’s drum
Sometimes we bow our heads

Ah, feel the breeze
My glossy violet-black quivers with desire
for my celestial black mate
and our cu-koo of spring past

As the moon rises, we settle
We preen each other
We snuggle on the branches of that old oak
We watch as the owl begins her night hunt
They say she is wise, but she’s no match
Our great-great-grandbird tells a bedtime story,
a tale about how Crows were painted black
And so we drift into the dream world
our roost for the night,
that ancient oak

You may wonder:
How do you rebel in a murder of crows?
Hell if I know

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