I’d keep her faultless as the winter crow
pecking another crow smeared on the street,
not scaring as each passing car in snow
swerves to avoid it, and she asks me straight
if birds have souls. I laugh. Her face goes tense.
“Maybe,” I say, and notice the soft sweep
of drifts has erased a neighbor’s wire fence.
Crow-crowded pine boughs where the crows must sleep.
Hard to ignore their cackles or the brittle sound
of claws scraping the bleachers of the tree.
Their nattering in the hoarse-throat tongue of crows—
I could call it a cry, a scold, this caw that echoes
beyond their diet of what can be found,
but they’re crows. They don’t behold a scene. They see.

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 41 Number 5, on page 35
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