Early Morning, January, Outside

Early Morning, January, Outside


I have seen crows measure themselves against a hawk
to secure territory.  A single crow settles into a branch

a few limbs away from a red tailed hawk, hopping awkwardly
closer then gawping its recognition and the echoes

of recognition bring more crows as if the crows
themselves were the echoes coming back. We know

how this ends, with the hawk taking flight and shrugging
them off, literally–with a few flicks of its shoulder

it is gone. But stronger or not, in the end it leaves.
This morning the crows behind my house

were raising a racket but nothing was rising
over the treeline. They hopped agitated from

tree to tree but kept to the lower branches.
Overhead like staples in the gray sky a hundred vultures

circled and swerved, like figure skaters
freed of all pretension of looking human

but they did look human, these angels
of death, or maybe turning to go back inside

I caught their reflection in the kitchen window
as if they were already inside the house,

waiting for me there, a semblance of the thing
that has crows giving ground without lifting

a wing. That after all there’s no owned territory,
that there’s something recognition alone won’t harry.

8 thoughts on “Early Morning, January, Outside

  1. Sunshine Jansen

    I know you’ve probably already chosen what you’ll be reading at Bridgewater, but if it’s not too late for me to be an “influencer”, I vote for this one! You probably know from some of what I write that I have a soft spot for poems where animal and human worlds mingle, reflect each other, and converge. And since I love and compulsively study corvids in my third or fourth career as an amateur naturalist, you pretty much had me at the first line. 😉

  2. C

    There are so many captivating images here! Staples in the sky, and the eerie, intangible “thing” of the last few stanzas… I agree with Sunshine, this would be great read aloud.


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