Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Through the tall, clear glass windows behind St. Mary’s altar, I watch three ebony-colored crows soar past, their wings bent upward. Crows and blackbirds are my favorite birds, including the boat-tailed grackles that make piercing whistles and annoy city dwellers. On my first trip to Mexico, I often glimpsed boat-tailed grackles in mesquite trees near hotels,and began to watch for them on the entire driving trip from Monterrey to Tampico, feeling that they somehow expressed a noise of friendliness in a strange culture as they perched in the mesquites, their long creased tails drooping from tree limbs.

When I lived in Iran, the most memorable part of a trip to Isfahan was the sight of large ravens the Persians call “khalag birds” that strutted in the garden of the Shah Abbas Hotel. These huge birds weren’t threatened by ex-patriates sitting at tables in the garden and foraged freely while we ate lamb shish kebab and drank tall glasses of Tuborg beer (this was the era of the Shahanshah, before the mullahs took over!). The khalag birds were waiting for crumbs to drop, and we were eager to satisfy their appetite. Crows will eat just about anything, including harmful insects that damage farmers’ crops…and remnants of shish kebabs, I might add!

In my chapbooks of poetry, crow poems outnumber other bird lyrics, and one of the chapbooks is actually entitled MORE CROWS. These beautiful, purple/black birds are believed to be the most intelligent of all birds and have excellent memories, especially when it comes to remembering where they have cached their food. Myths abound about crows, but I prefer the heresay regarding crows that hover in the yard any length of time…they are said to be bringing messages…messages of hope, I like to presume. And just for those who collect crow trivia, it’s “crowworthy” and contrary to popular opinion that crows have fewer family squabbles than birds of other species!

Here’s a snippet about crows from my chapbook SOARING which can be ordered from Border Press:

We bird watch,
birds watch us,
vigilant crows
watching for their day to rule,
seeing straight through to within,
the evolution of human soaring.
How we claim ascent,
tree top, free fall,
while sitting at a table,
lying in bed,
waking before daybreak,
wings beating wildly.
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