Crow Mother, Her Eggs, Her Eyes

A crow picks her swaying way across fields searching for food. Three-pronged skinny feet splay, gripping slope. It would be better if this field hadn’t been plowed after harvest. Easier if the spray hadn’t killed what she eats.

*         *         *         *

Crow Mother has no face, expects nothing.
All wings and eggs, flying and holding on,
she sees but does not know.
How does she breathe?
          Through the beat of her wings.
     How does she think?
          There is no confusion in her.

Crow Mother, Her Eggs, Her Eyes - Artist:Meinrad Craighead

*         *         *         *

Without sun’s reflection to glint off feathers’ perfect curve, a crow would be a chunk carved from the night forest. But a crow is not the bird of night, at least not the night sky with its starry crazyquilt or summer’s warm moon-work. The crow’s black is dense, storm or giant trees’ blotting of the dome.

*         *         *         *

See with Crow Mother’s sightful wings,
          what do you look for?
          Seeds, rain, heat.
          Someplace safe enough for eggs,
          where you incubate,
          dark, unknown.
          Where all your selves
          can be born.

I was inspired to write ‘Crow Mother, Her Eggs, Her Eyes,’ when I found the painting by that name, created by Meinrad Craighead. Ms. Craighead subscribes to a belief in animal guides. In my neighborhood around the same time, I kept seeing this coterie of crows near my house, and I put together the physical crows with the metaphysical ones.

The physical world we perceive and the mythical realm we create are tethered to each other. Out of the first arises the second. Myth serves our hunger for meaning. As poets and artists, we participate in the making of myth and how it sustains spirit.

Long ago, they captured our city

The city of our mothers, who built it out of
each day’s straw, the raucous calls of jays, the wings
of the cormorant flapping languidly over water,
the many earnest ants carrying bits of
ground out of the ground, liberating them
from the dark. It didn’t matter that the ants
were blind, they’d been bred to their task.
It didn’t matter whether the mothers were beautiful
or gifted, tall or talkative or wholly wise.
It mattered that they spoke the words
everything obeyed, the fish, the newts
who could choose so many forms, the bulky
water buffalo, the barren rocks. All
understood each other and even though
there was killing and there was dying,
there was also understanding of these things,
and forgiveness. This was the beginning,
the story that everything knew, and the ants
in their labor fashioned the fretwork of tunnels
that would house this knowledge safe from
an invading force that did not speak to earth.

This title from a poem by Kevin Prufer. I asked myself ‘What is our City?’ and got the reference to the mothers because who else makes life? I was reminded of the Native American myths of, in particular, Spider Woman and the Turtle that holds up the world, which catapulted my imagination into what our City (i.e., our World) might have been before the ‘invasion’ pulled us from union and grace.

About the Author

Grace Marie Grafton has been writing poetry for over four decades. Six collections of her poems have been published, the most recent Jester (2013). She has taught literally thousands of children the art of writing, through her work with CA Poets in the Schools.

Some things that inspire Grace to write are orchids and ravens, art and meditation, love, curiosity and the sounds of words. She lives in the hills of Oakland, CA, near redwoods, oak and bay trees, salamanders, skunks, squirrels and many birds including the local wild turkey flock.

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