The difference between a raven and a crow
is the intent of their blackness. The crow
is a raven’s shadow. The crow is a memory
of a raven. Only a raven can transcend
the raven to become a prophecy.
We dream of crows but the raven lands in our bed,
wakes us wide-eyed and sweating rivers, rivers
of our body’s water running hot between
our breasts, hot across our forehead and into
our own black hair.
It’s a river I’m drowning in now, a river
fed by my own murder of crows, and I
alone can save me. Two thousand years ago
perhaps we rescued each other, and a thousand
years ago a raven slid between us.
Now here we are, clinging to opposite shores,
each reaching a hand out toward the river’s
tongue, thinking somehow our tongues
might save us this time, break
the spell if we could just name it.
I wish I could talk beyond surviving, beyond
breathing, but I have a raven in my mouth,
I have a river in my lungs and no name
is coming to me, only blackness, the lateness
of the hour, the sound of wings beating.
from An Unkindness of RavensFind it in the library
Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd 2001
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of BOA Editions LTD.