In the nodding midday, a murder of crows.
So loud they haul you from a lulled house
where news of a war nests in the walls.
You stare to the end of the street, where they roost
not in the maples on mowed lawns,
carefully straight-edged, calm, but the stripped
crown of an elm dying of canker:
The flapping rags of their funeral clothes.
The air-wrung cries. The creature they rail at
(you think, squinting at its backlit squat)
is a cat, hunched hard
against the havoc,
harried. But how, so improbably high,
has it ghosted there to that grim resistance?
Your neck hairs bristle in a thin breeze.
Your shoulders rise. Now, from the riot
of mobbed clamor, the muddying cat-shape
grows great wings. It glides away,
owl after all,
a soul departing
the place of slaughter.
The din dies down. Occasional cawing.
Quiet. The carrion far away.
by Maryann Corbett