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Young Crows

Susan McMaster
From:   Uncommon Prayer. Kingson, Ontario: Quarry Press, 1998.


Your voice on the phone—
cancer — and their wings
start beating in my chest
black crow wings
leathered and soft
with bending spines,
handfuls of wings
fluttering, caught
between heart and ribs
pressing in on lungs
catching my breath
in spurts, starts

You ask for reassurance
but, this time, I can't tell.
Once or twice before
I've somehow known:
this one will fail
this one heal—
but now the air is still
now, when more than ever
I want to feel
the direction of the wind
strain for a clear view
silence suspends me
a foggy calm
neither feathers nor sky

I don't know what to say
We must wait for the tests
their uncertain light
keep a grip on this shifting
nest of bones
while the harsh winds swirl

wait, hold tight—

till a gust sends you spinning
out into the blast
we follow as we can
through storms, gales
inversions, calms

We don't know yet—
will your wings tear apart
in the tempest's wail
drop you crashing into rocks

Or will a gentler breeze
catch you, carry you
lift you against hope
to a nest of long grasses
on the hill's shaggy side

wings beat at my heart
fear takes flight



Susan McMaster's works copyright © to the author.


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