A New Gaggle of Crows

The cold has descended, and with it, what appears to be a new gaggle of crows, the chickadee and the falcon, the coyote and the row deer, and redtail and owl in abundance.  By this time last year, a golden eagle had established a presence along the length of the canyon.  One can almost hear the collective shuddering of the mice, and the quail, and the rabbits huddled in the undergrowth.

Yesterday I trekked down into the ravine and filled the feeders with seeds and nuts, and felt a thousand tiny eyes upon my every move.  And still, they waited until dusk to emerge and feed themselves, somewhat frantically, some hours later.   The raptors aren't pleasure-cruising this time of year, and leisurely, social, noisy dining is out of the question.  The summer affords safety in numbers; winter is a different algorithm entirely.  Even the goats across the way bleat in the afternoons right on cue, but with less conviction in the thin air.  Big ol rumbling raccoon that's made a vocation of crossing  the road (over and over again), finally got smushed at the bottom of the hill towards town.  An undignified death, to be sure, but at least he's spared the winter months.  And that's not even mentioning Lane next door with his welding machines gone quiet, and Leesa down the road, who lost her husband and her horse -- or Murray, whose water well went dry back in August.

 It's hard times for everyone in coal country.

Literature, in my experience, does not console, and isn't meant to.  - Hecht

Meanwhile, the poet is asked to speak on "current events, rhetoric, and a world gone awry with greed and shameless stupidity".  As though either were a  mystery, or new to the world. 

The poet mumbles something about being raised on Dostoyevski, Hesse, and Mad Magazine, and has grown accustomed to the crude and the absurd, has in fact come to expect it.  This elicits a conspiratorial giggle from the inquisitors.  Thus satisfied, they settle in.  The poet goes on to deliver a poem, which does not console, and isn't meant to, and which nobody in the room quite hears, (another occurrence  to which the poet has become accustomed), save one scrappy wayward soul who calls himself the friend of a friend of an old woman who gave birth to the prophet of Melon.

How many readers does a poet neeeeed, asks the hermit of Log Hill.

One, replies the poet, as though need were a thing with feathers, and crows were a child's counting song.


some days later, the poet witnesses a virtuoso cellist.  She is obliged to say It wasn't really a witnessing, but the boarding of a frigate.

Cold dark deep and absolutely clear is the mind of winter.

The Owl

By Edward Thomas

Downhill I came, hungry, and yet not starved; 
Cold, yet had heat within me that was proof 
Against the North wind; tired, yet so that rest 
Had seemed the sweetest thing under a roof. 

Then at the inn I had food, fire, and rest, 
Knowing how hungry, cold, and tired was I. 
All of the night was quite barred out except 
An owl’s cry, a most melancholy cry 

Shaken out long and clear upon the hill, 
No merry note, nor cause of merriment, 
But one telling me plain what I escaped 
And others could not, that night, as in I went. 

And salted was my food, and my repose, 
Salted and sobered, too, by the bird’s voice 
Speaking for all who lay under the stars, 
Soldiers and poor, unable to rejoice.

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