The crow came back to my rail today. As soon as I saw him, I turned, went inside, found one of the heart-shaped salmon treats that he likes. I took it out as he hopped away and then watched through the window as he swooped in for it.
For twelve years, the crows have been my guides. That's a Jupiter cycle, if you know astrology. Jupiter, which is so massive, so dense that it gives off more energy than it receives. It is almost a second sun.
At my wedding, in the middle of a madrone grove, the crows gathered. The ravens too, more than a hundred, a giant black flock of corvids. When we kissed to seal the deal, they called out, all at once, a giant hailing that had us all looking upward.
She has put her foot on the road.
They were welcoming me into darkness. And light...
After that, every summer, they came to the birch trees behind my house by the hundreds. Every night, from July to November, they gathered.
I wrote a poem about them... it was a finalist in the Pacific Northwest Writer's Association Poetry contest that year. I'll share it below.
It feels strange to be writing about that time. I was so alone, and I believe my ex-husband was too. We were each far from ourselves. Strange because I just got off the phone with my new love, and he is so close to me. But not strange because I feel like I was always headed here. There are crows in him too.
Of course, love always tells that story.
It is good that the crows are returning to me, though.
Now, on my altar, is a carved glass, full of crow's feathers. I gather them, every fall. There are places in my neighborhood where the feathers always are. Under this Maple, by that driveway. I used to believe that they were the feathers of dead crows. That there was a really deathly cat on that block. I thought the black feathers were a harvest of carnage. I picked them up with reverence, hoping to make meaning of their pain.
But I recently I learned that, no, those months are when crows molt.
The harvest is of growth, not pain.
How different it feels.
Telling Time by the Crows
It’s not yet 8 O’clock
Because the sky is clear.
My favorite way of telling time –
Yellow wine in a green glass, white summer night.
But what if the crows stopped coming?
One night, 7:28 in July and instead of the first stragglers
Just the Cascade Mountains
And the noise of the West Seattle Bridge,
the shipyard loading-
Never mind, there they are: One and then two.
85 more to follow by the time I rise to make dinner.
They alight in the 90-foot birch trees-
Eleven crows. It’s 7:36.
My husband proposed in December,
After a long silent ride.
At night in the wildlife refuge.
He gave me a piece of birch bark
Carved, “Will you marry me?”
The harbor bangs, and I remember the other man,
Who looked at me,
As an otter, startled by my approach.
We swam in the dark,
naked, barely touching,
As if reaching around his wife.
Who knows why the crows choose the birches?
Directly below me is the rowan tree. And some say,
That a rowan branch over the door
Keeps out witches – but I feel invited.
And picture myself at the winter solstice, working a spell,
To make the red summer berries still cling, camouflage my nipples
In the wreath of branches that I wear around my ribs
Like a wedding dress.
By 8:20, 87 crows have left the trees empty for this night.
I consider: What it would have felt like to say yes?
Be a mistress, instead of a wife.
Land in the rowan tree.