channeling the crazy crow woman

how must I look – this graying
Botticelli who walks with crows
in a constant spray of black cawings,
a dark-feathered wind I would not dispel

one is for Sorrow, two is for Mirth,
and the bursting laughter of those first
brought the flock that now follows glossily,
seeking tidbits from one who says “well hello”

but oh, how the superstitious must
inwardly flinch (irrational reflex!)
and it’s funny to me how a feather can
so clearly draw a divide between them and me

pshaw! and caw! to all of you fragile-minded
things – flightier even than crows –
they are a gift the same as my mad curls and I
will revel in them both for as long as life allows

© Sarah Whiteley

My mom insists that I ought to write and illustrate a children’s book about the crows that have adopted me. Truth be told, I’d already had a few half-formed thoughts about that before she mentioned it. Trouble is I’m an impatient sort of artist – I want to feel the immense satisfaction of completion before I’ve put the proper amount of effort into it I think. The result of course is sloppy art. Ha! One of these days I’ll put down a few sketches and see if I can muster the enthusiasm for such a project.

In the meantime, I do sometimes wonder what sorts of thoughts are going through the minds of the people who have given me odd (or yes, even shocked) looks when walking by the entourage that is me, two dogs, and anywhere from 2-12 crows (depending on time of year).

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strange companions

I have my sorrows,
yes,
but they and I
are turned companionable
as crows who follow
close behind
on quiet days
and I have learned
that a certain
tilt of the head
reveals the purple
upon the black
now it seems
if they were to go
I would sorely
feel their lack

© Sarah Whiteley

I have written on Tied to Sky something about the crows who have “adopted” me and follow me about while I’m walking the dogs. It all began last year when they were juveniles and starved for any bit of food they could find. I apparently became a prized resource for doggy treats, which they love. I find it especially entertaining as Freyja’s (one of my dogs) namesake in Norse mythology is the daughter of Odin, who has two ravens who fly the world over and carry back information to their master. And so I began to joke that Freyja’s father was simply checking up on his daughter.

I’ve taken to calling them Sorrow and Mirth which comes from a proverb about crows, and as there are two of them, it just seems to fit. Sorrow is the bolder of the two, and as a result the more demanding. He will swoop in low, sometimes brushing my head with a wing, and land no more than three feet away, giving three short caws indicating he knows I have something he wants. Mirth hovers around the perimeter, but will still come to within five or six feet. The dogs recognize them and now automatically sit when the crows come cawing. They are no longer juveniles, but have grown into beautiful adults – and while I never envisioned they would become such quirky little companions on so many of my walks (sometimes hopping along behind us for quite a few blocks), I enjoy their company very much.