In schoolyards we flew
Red Soviet flags and honored them
By raising little fingers to our foreheads.
We never flew a flag on our farm
But in June, grandpa would place
a long worn pole
in the middle of strawberry fields
And tie a dead crow to the top.
Sometimes, when my sister and I
ran barefoot holding old chipped enameled bowls
Overflowing with dew-covered berries for breakfast
The crow would lightly flap in the wind
And whisper something beautiful to us.
City folk came and declared we were cruel.
They claimed it was voodoo.
Bad luck to do such a thing.
Just plain awful taste.
But for us, it tasted good,
Those ripe red strawberries that crows
Now spared as they moved down the path
snatching soap from the wash bin.
But I mostly wanted to know
If grandpa had killed that unlucky crow.
No, he said, he had found it in the pasture.
I roamed the southern pasture behind the cows,
their pies, the tiny frogs, and crickets,
Until one day, under the electric poles,
I discovered two more crows.
They had been curious of electrical transformers
That city folk had installed.
Gliding my small child fingers
over those still shiny wing feathers
Splayed in June pastures like summer rainbows
I thanked the crows for the strawberries, and
through the little opening the crow
Spoke of grieving and love
Life and death
Flags we hang to declare territories
And flags we hang to surrender,
Being all but the same.