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Black Wings
Gretchen Sousa

Crows patrol the fields this morning - -
tribes, squads, militia,
sharp-eyed as death.
They feed on leavings: corn, carrion - -
small helpless things,
raid trees with figs plump as babies.
Their open beaks slit bellies clean.

Oh ravens, oh little brother crow,
you sly devils. You weave yourselves
like commas into the paragraphs of our days,
don't deserve the onus
of omen for tragedies.

I fold clothes, warm from the dryer,
hold the soft knits to my cheeks, thinking of black
the measured flap casting dark shadows.

In Sierra Leone baskets of black hands
beside the chopping block - - a bloody tree stump.
They lie like fallen leaves, helpless,
unable to cleave or clasp
or hold one another again

Last night, here,
where there is less to fear,
I woke from a dream as black wings rushed in
and an open beak
tore a scream from my throat.

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