Skip to content →


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.

Published in Meg Kearney Poems

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.