Quiscalus Quiscula by Barbara Crooker

On the lawn, the grackles spread their nightdark fans,
cluck softly to themselves. They are telling me,
“Get back to work.” They are telling me time
is rushing like a river, restless. They are saying
tomorrow may be too late. Their yellow eyes
glint like the clasp of a satin purse.
Consider then, these birds of the air.
Their heads shine in the sun,
an anti-iridescence. Their bodies are glazed
in bronze. They cluck their tongues in sorrow
for the world gone wrong, or what we’ve failed to do.
Is the purpose for their darkness to fly against
the dogwoods, remind us that night is always
bearing down? Time beats its blueblack wings,
elusive, hopping from branch to branch
in the sweet cerise of the flowering crab.
These grackles are angels of the Lord,
and we are just fooled by their robes of soot.
They speak in tongues; whole glossolalia rolls
out of their beaks. Their song is unmusical, industrial,
like a wrench on metal. They rise in a dark river,
fly past the redbuds next to the cherries, a small stream
of violets underneath, it’s over-the-top, the Fauvism
of spring. Maybe the blackbird’s song is an inexplicable
mystery, or as plain as black and blue:
Love whatever you can.

(Barbara Crooker)

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