From her chair by the window,
Mother watches crows settle in the pines.
I can call them, she says.
I caw and they come.

Underneath the table,
her tiny dog snores his tiny snore.
I search through piles of papers on the desk
for notices and bills;
I make us cups of tea.
She scolds me for carrying
a stack of books she thinks too heavy.
I scold her because she bends
to pick a paperclip from the floor.

She won’t write captions
for the family photos,
her trip to Mexico after the War.
I don’t bring her copies
of my poems or tell her
I’m writing a book.

Our failures persist like rusty stains
on Grandma’s tablecloth.
Mother can say You’re doing
so well.  You make me so happy
but that’s not something I know how
to hear.  You did what you had to do,
I can say, but she knows
so well that I am wrong.

Caw, she says, caw.
Now come and see.

2 comments on “CALLING CROWS

  1. erieffel says:

    beautiful, graceful. the imagery is so strong in this poem — paperclips, rusty tablecloth stains, and of course the crows themselves. there is an air of magical realism here, and an air of inevitable sadness that one finds in a marquez novel. somehow, though, my first thought was of a painting — “whistler’s mother.”

    • Thanks for your kind words. This was a strange poem to write. The last year of my mom’s life was a sort of magical realism–I’d never quite thought of it that way before. And I also think she could call crows. My brother-in-law can. A couple of years ago, I moved an injured raven from the roadside and covered it with leaves. When I went back the next day, there was no sign of it. And two days later, as I walked down that road, a raven circled low over my head three times. I”ve yet to write a poem about that–it was a rather wonderful thing!

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