A black ballet plays out across bare branches
of skeletal oak, silhouetted against violet
clouds, with hundreds of razorblack wings.
Beneath the stage, a tired mother pushes
twins in a stroller, a homeless man finds
warmth under the exhaust vent behind a
pizza parlor, and an endless line of cars
putter clumsily down Charles Street.
The cold does something to the smell of
a city, something predacious and beautiful
and dark. Maybe thatís not right, but I feel
like I should be hunting. A girl in red zips
past me on a bicycle and for an instant I
smell anger and sex and maybe love and
the crows must smell it too because they
scatter overhead and follow her half a block
before perching again.
It might be because my grandmother just
died, or maybe itís that my parents met when
they were twenty-two and now Iím twenty-three,
but standing in this chill, below lofty trees and
all those black feathers, I can smell the difference
between waking up next to a warm body
on frosted mornings and waking up alone and cold.
I donít know for sure, but I think
maybe we got it wrong. Maybe we were supposed
to flock and never quite got it right. Maybe
hundreds of years ago, we looked up at the crows,
lonely and jealous and angry that it was so simple
for them, so we gave them dark names and made
them dark omens because we couldnít understand
and that might be the end of it.