Poetry: “Six Standing Crows” by Meryl McQueen

Huddled like rabbis in a field

Of dying rye, six standing

Crows scratch a coarse meal

From dust and dirt. No command

Or edict tumbles from flat sky. No

Rain. Skullcaps of slick black

Feathers dip and nod as bow

To cello, the rhythm halfway back

To darkness. The gathered stalks

Are crumpled moths, wan and wasted

By timid clouds that balk

And twist at first blue taste of

Rain. Flow and wet, that covenant

To seep and grow, is crushed to dry

Retreat. The animals’ mute sacrament

Of final feast calls out the sky.

They rock on talons in the ruins, these birds

Like men of duty, men of prayer

Who conjure rivers from dead words

As weak as a promise. Where

Would we be without the harvest

Of grain and glory? The ink-dipped

Corvus flock stopped here to rest

But we are weak and ill-equipped

To save the day.