Alison Jauss

    Late Fall with Crows 

    The yard darkened with them.
    And emptied. They flew away,
    sharp rush of wings.
    Rough cries.
    Listening to that tense breeze
    I felt a flinch in my heart.
    They were fat on roadkill,
    feathers moussed down
    blue-black as polished boots.
    They scuttled in the dead leaves
    and argued, and spoke

    a sound between chortle
    and song, heckle and cry.
    A sour sermon. They walked priestly
    on the edge of the gutter.
    They took turns combing one another,
    sifting through lifted feathers.
    They napped in trees, blackening
    the whitest bark.
    But in stories they sat
    on the shoulders of one-eyed bandits
    who raped and stole.
    They carried evil letters,
    crying mice to boil in stew.
    I dreamed one night
    they poked at the door
    as though to leave
    a curse therethe ping
    and soot of a black nail. It was a cold night,
    dead leaves sat up
    tinny with ice.
    When the sleet came scraping
    like an unfed witch at our house
    I felt a pinch in my heart.
    I heard the crows bristle,
    and their wings like stiff paper
    crackling as they flew away.


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J. Porterfield