Saturday morning at a local strip mall three crows, staying close, walking across snow, one of them dipping and cloaking his wings and crakking-croaking. They were gleaming black in all the gray of this low-cloud wet-cold morning. I pulled over to watch them. Nothing else suddenly mattered. They only flew when I lowered the window.
I see them every day — a family of five who have this parcel of my home territory as theirs too and who walk the field in front of our house in lines while one stays among branches watching out; singletons crossing skies; murders of them flocking to roost in winter; their calls before dawn in summer dropping through the skylights and awakening me.
I have found their wings and skulls, and I keep them among my books.
I cannot adequately explain why they enthrall me but it is not casual. Perhaps I think them as loyal, playful, capable of ecstasy, fearless — qualities I admire and hope to emulate, but then I could link any creature I choose or hero in a book or movie to those virtues. They are not merely a metaphor. No, there is something beyond analogy going on here, — just behind my ability to name, under the skin; some rampant wish or an extravagant desire; a wild, untouched character, a singularity, a creature whom we, the most avaricious species, cannot ultimately define … or own.
I am too clear-eyed and flattened and 21st century logical to think of them as a totem, not for this ghostly white man, arthritic, too often and too much a fool, but ohh when they catch the wind, I feel cries coming up in me, a great ravishing spirit coming up in me, and I cannot stop the gleaming I feel which they carry.
Painting: ‘she decided to become a crow for the rest of her life’ by keely benkey