Crows, they say, know more than we do
about what we’re like when we think
no one is watching. A gliding shadow
that barely registers on the rim of our consciousness,
they observe us from above
with passive, alien minds.
Unlike most birds, who are driven
to the sky as trees are reassembled
into houses, crows thrive off our presence.
They raid our trash cans and build
their nests on telephone poles. They love to watch
our heads through windows and mutter secrets
about the things we throw away.
At night, we sleep underneath the patter-scratch
of claws on rooftop shingles
as they supervise our dreams, as they catalog
all these imprints of a life
we don’t even know we’re making.
Chuck used to be a principal,
thinks I am his student. He folds
the daily newspaper in perfect
right angles. He squeezes my shoulder
and tells me I’ve done well today,
his voice steeped in certainty.
Flo is roaming in her wheelchair;
failing eyes blur as she halts
before each door, searching for one
that leads back to her summer beach house,
before the sea moved in. She turns to ask
if I know the way.
Jim’s weathered mouth lifts as he watches
young caregivers hurry from room to room.
He stands up tall as his mind takes him back
to days spent carousing in streetside brothels,
calls, Come and get me, ladies;
I’m ready, I’m waiting for you.
Celeste’s voice quavers through an empty doorway.
Help me, I’m sick. I’m sick. I don’t know
what to do. No long-dead parent
murmurs comfort at her bedside.
Bob peers from his room, clad in a nightshirt
tucked perfectly into his Depends. No wrinkles.
God bless you, his taut lips fumble
the familiar refrain. God bless you all;
God bless you and keep you in His mercy,
God bless you and goodnight.
Amanda Hiland grew up hiking through old-growth forests of the Pacific Northwest. She teaches Special Education by day and is a major astronomy enthusiast at night. Her poems have appeared in journals such as Passengers, Epiphany, Cathexis, New Plains Review, and Timberline Review. She can often be found sipping chai tea at the intersection of art and science, and her poetry reflects and embraces this duality.