The fog came first long before the crows but history -- or, if this were a different sort of poem, one of those pretentious poety poems, the mists of time -- will remember the black birds as harbingers of the inescapable white mist that smothered everything, deadening the world, white-washing the landscape until roads, houses, trees, beach, and water were bleached into a silvery white that vanished any horizon.
For their part the crows were simply grounded the distinction between air and ground no longer finite. To be clear there was no murder of crows just two, male and female, and they were shall we say whiling away their downtime by engaging in some sort of mating dance a precursor of Corvus copulating, no doubt that involved much hopping, preening and occasional pecking not necessarily in that order.
Truth be told as it is even here upon occasion the rumors of harbingers started when the raucous birds finished their mating machinations. A silver dollar sun strove through the haze defining shore and sea earth and air the mist sending smoke signals into a startled blue sky
There is too much North in the wind men turn up their collars women put their heads down rushing to their destinations without lingering to look around the leaves scuttle down the road as if suddenly aware it's now Spring and they missed the autumn gathering Daffodils close their buds tight refusing to wake before the heat is turned up
There's too much North in the air park benches sit empty playground equipment languishes forlorn swings swaying empty in the breeze birds hunker down into feathered poofs while the bird bath becomes a skating rink even the grass genuflects hoping to avoid the wind's ire
There's too much North in the wind he says but I only grin shrugging into my coat and hat before going out to revel
Two Pileated Woodpeckers interrupted my coffee making this morning. One dwarfs the feeder a small-scale pterodactyl, red-crested head bobbing energetically as sharp ivory bill carves out chunks of suet flesh. Its prehistoric mate crabwalks sideways on the ground below, head cocked one way, then another searching for prey before extracting some tasty morsel with surgical precision.
The turkeys show up next all twenty-nine of them. I sit by the slider and sip coffee while the jakes put on a show like body builders at the beach jostling each other in masculine power plays. Puffed up and strutting they drag their wings and fan tail feathers angling them just so to impress the ladies But I'm the only female watching The hens pay no mind more interested in filling their stomachs then checking out the biggest and best turkey.
Finally, with a sigh, I go about my day, morning having already gone to the birds.
We stitch this quilt together, panels of light and dark, bright patterns sewn next to those of somber hue.
The design not always one of our own choosing, we work with what we have, a crazy quilt crafted from bits and pieces of our lives.
We dream and plan in colorful coordinated patterns of delight with lustrous materials - gossamer and ermine, gaudy choices reflect energy and youth.
But life is full of unexpecteds - scratchy burlap work days that irritate and exhaust, pale washed-out squares of sickness, grim funeral clothes stitched to pastel baby blankets and lacy white bridal gowns join seams with gaudy vacation shirts or gray and black suits of mourning.
No one knows the pattern of their days, how wide or long their life will be.
Therefore savor those bright fabrics. Approve the sections formed of sturdy cloth that endure, softening with the years. And pray that when all panels are sewn and stitched, and humanity's quilt is finished - as it shall be in time - your square holds up well and is pleasing to the Master Quilter's eye.
I am currently reading A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War: How J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis Rediscovered Faith, Friendship, and Heroism in the Cataclysm of 1914-1918 by Joseph Loconte. The book goes into the effects of the war on the political and religious landscape of the West. It delves into how Tolkien’s and Lewis’s experiences in the trenches inspired and played into the imaginary worlds they are so known for as writers.
I was thinking about the book when I went out in the hot tub with my daughter. The sky was clear and the stars were incredible. It all seemed so serene despite the horrors of battle still playing out in my head. This poem stems from that.
The Great War marches in and battle fills the air with the cries of the wounded the pleas and prayers of the dying. Explosions jar bones loosen teeth the throaty roars of heavy artillery drowning out the staccato rattle of small arms.
Above it all the stars shine pin-pricks in black velvet allowing a glimpse of the beautiful light high beyond this present darkness.
Caught by the machines of war new realms form and faith is forged.
The stars shine high above the clouds above the bombs which scatter us like dust every which way looking to settle but driven by winds of war and fear.
We try to take home with us a teddy bear for security of which we have none a photograph of family many whom have died a blue china tea pot - keepsake from happier times now hard to remember a heart burning with hope for a future for safety for a place to build to plant and grow roots find neighbors and friends.
We dream of things we have lost and hold tight to what we still have.