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A Crow's Elegy for the Farmer's Daughter

We gathered in the fern-thin treetops at dusk
or in the flat sear of noon
strutted among puddles and spoke only
of the sky's empty torment
or ourselves. Once in awhile

we flapped in the dust and silver rain
and disparaged wind with our bevel-winged plummetings
and soundless glides.
We did not care
who shot at us for our raucous predawn menacing
or for settling like a plague of black books in fields
under the blindness of those homespun effigies
leering and motionless and coming unstuffed.

We did not care for you
though we saw the cortege winding past the arbor
and drunken berry rows, the ghosts of peach trees bowing
to acknowledge death's grand simplicity at last

We were pieces of a blackboard
upon which last rites were written and did not care
who could or could not see
that we were gods and you were not
ever coming home,

in spite of the mourners' deeply foolish love
we could imagine only by flying
into the sun, where every grief is charred
and finally burned away.

Christopher Howell

Milkweed Editions

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