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.
Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd 2001
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of BOA Editions LTD.