* * *
The hawk I hoped to see
has, in its approach, diminished
to a crow pecking the ground.
Just a crow, the kind found
wherever I’ve lived, where millions have,
one of a species sustained and even favored
by human surplus (i.e., garbage), a species
we might call colleague or mirror,
which troubles us more than loud caws.
A crow whose kind, the experts say,
hasn’t grown larger but only looks that way
as we fill former distances, though
I, for one, believe they’ve gotten bigger
with so much easy feeding.
At the very least, they are growing
in the esteem of behaviorists
catching up with the lore of this bird
as trickster or messenger between worlds.
What I’m watching is just a crow
with the intelligence of a seven-year-old,
according to Aquinas the age of reason,
that in groups mourns its dead and vocalizes
with the apparent grammar of a language,
accents varying from place to place, a crow
likely to have learned and taught the use of tools,
one possessed of and inhabiting a culture.
I am looking at just a crow, only one,
and wait for more.
* * *
J.D. Smith‘s fourth collection, The Killing Tree, was published in 2016, and his first fiction collection, Transit, is forthcoming in 2022. Smith works in Washington, DC, where he lives with his wife Paula Van Lare and their rescue animals and sees birds of many kinds along the Potomac River.