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Disturbing the Crows
Kathleen Peterson

If a solitary bird could knead
all of the air
beneath his or her
cloaklike wings (but this crow
was not solitary but shaped
as a repetition and emerged
from one of two telephone poles
where so arranged dozens
of crows rested notelike
on those horizontals), if he
could it would sound
like some first motion,
but it was not the first.
That came when the birds crossed
overhead from opposing poles
and a walker might have thought
some impossible attack or menacing
had become, in the blue air, sure.
No, that first motion was instead when
they lifted all at once
their sounded signatures the sound
black makes to carve itself
from darkening blue
since such definition in one mind
somewhere cries itself, creates
itself a sound, and swears
it can, as one sense
sometimes becomes another
making the first stranger and more true.
Or when their beaks
turned quick against each other each pointing
to the ringing mountains and the jaw
of the valley hinged
shut in evening.
No, these times stand paler
still, a blush on them becoming
gradual revelations
of freedom and consent. No. It was when
you stamped the earth
for no good reason, self,
disturbing the crows, waiting
minutes on that piece of earth
for rearrangement in a kind
of leisure before fear
recombined and remembered in the air
above your hair, that was you, and your feet
did not shudder, but the valley
shuddered, and your fear
carved you bright-dark enough out of air
to make you visible, and it ran you home.

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