Birth of One Thing, Death of Another

Crows and ravens,
they tell us about change.
A famous crow in Vancouver has gone missing;
his mate hops the fence expectantly,
and at the same time, here in the foothills
a young crow in distress
circles our house, calling plaintively.
She has lost something:
a parent or a plan, the usual order of things.

For the Druids, these black birds
stand between us and the other world.
For them, the raven is Bran, the healer,
though sometimes we heal into loss.
Sometimes we are missing from the old world,
sloughing it off with illness.

Hope and horror both
have their hands on that gate.

The black juvenile circles me
on my morning walk along the Hogback,
drawing a net around my lack of superstition.
She has something urgent to tell me,
in what can be
the static doldrums of late summer,
in the season’s dangerous inactivity:

child-changer, she calls,
child, teacher of the man.

Magpie on the Reservoir Wall

Slow, driver.
I’m all that’s left after the thrill
of homecoming and nesting,
in my black and white,
skipping into the road
for car kill, to pull
at squirrel skin and
your suddenly toneless thoughts.

I’ve come into focus again,
tailtip glistening
like spilled oil / I’ve remembered
where I keep
the bones of winter.

But they were always there,
weren’t they?
while you summered,
distracted by the full green,
the snapdragons, the pink petunias
hung on the railing,
the spending cloud.

It’s more pensive now.
Can you feel it?
Even the escarpment frowning over
the reservoir stays in,
writing its journal
with cuttlefish ink and sienna.

And while it was not
what you wanted, this year:
you didn’t have her,
the pool was less clear,
the work was unsatisfactory,
you aged ungracefully —
whatever it was.

I’ve watched you.
I’m here to help.
If you let me,
we’ll pick clean
your memories, too.