Crows in the Dead of Summer


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.




About BeeHappee

Where have all the bees gone? Where have all the flowers gone?
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20 Responses to Crows in the Dead of Summer

  1. Walking My Path: Mindful Wanderings in Nature says:

    This is profoundly beautiful, Kristina.

  2. gatheringplaceseasonfour says:

    thanked crows for / strawberries / and rainbows

    • BeeHappee says:

      Yes, perfect summary. Talking of rainbows and crows, we like the Native American (Lenape) story of the Rainbow Crow, where the crow carries the fire to other creatues and thus the most colorful feathers get scorched black. But you can still see the colors if the sun shines on them just so.

  3. Hariod Brawn says:

    I completely agree with Mary, this work is indeed both beautiful and profound Kristina. The evocations of Eastern Europe as it was not so very long ago, and the touching imagery of corvids whispering from the beyond, are quite exquisite. Many congratulations on such a very fine piece of work. _/\_

    • BeeHappee says:

      Thank you very kindly for your words. I am glad you enjoyed reading it. Sometimes I get carried away with some memories. πŸ™‚ Children asked yesterday when we can eat strawberries again, and so it made me think of endless strawberry fields.

  4. Excellent. I can hear Garrison Keillor reading this on The Writer’s Almanac.

  5. This is very good and I liked the irony of the city folks thinking the crow on the pole was cruel yet their power lines brought two crows to their demise.

  6. So beautiful πŸ™‚ check out the word “pavonine”…one of my favorites to describe the dark iridescence of certain plumage. –Paul

  7. Michael says:

    Truly, as has been said, this piece covers the whole range of the comical and the sacred, in a way that left me suddenly quiet and deeply grateful at the end. Both times, only not less so the second time around, but more deeply so. My tears hung poised at the edge of the sockets, prepared to dive into the sweet magic before us, having heard their wake-up call.


    • BeeHappee says:

      Thank you for sharing those experiences, Michael. I feel blessed to have had some conflicting experiences growing up in the former Soviet Union, which then perhaps that dualism becomes sadly comical and draws us to non-dualism.
      Have a peaceful weekend with tears of laughter flowing freely.

  8. shoreacres says:

    Modified, sanitized, their roots nearly forgotten, the old traditions endure. Boaters here commonly place plastic owls or rubber snakes on their boats as a way to discourage roosting birds and nesting mallards. It amuses me how ineffective it is: birds being far smarter than most people realize. Even the recorded distress calls used by a nearby supermarket to discourage the starlings and sparrows are utterly ineffective. I’ve seen sparrows sitting atop the squawking speaker, blissfully unconcerned.

    No, it takes more than plastic, rubber, and recordings to scare away real birds. Real birds recognize the ways of real death — unlike too many humans.

    • shoreacres says:

      I’ve been sitting here for an hour now, just ripped apart by a years-old memory of some grackels. I’ve been wanting to do something with the experience, and now I’ve got a couple of lines for a poem — when it’s done, you’ll recognize it. It may take a while, but thanks for the inspiration.

    • BeeHappee says:

      Haha, yes, I wonder what is the market size of all those imitation birds and plastic decoys and the sounds, the smells in the bottles that do not work so well.
      I believe in the south in the USA they still hang dead birds from trees and places.

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