Tuesday, February 9, 2010


American Crow  


Mary Oliver

New and Selected Poems

Beacon Press, 1992


...When you look in the eyes of one

you have seen them all.


At the edges of highways

they pick at limp things.

They are anything but refined


Crow is Crow, you say.

What else is there to say?...


...wherever you arrive

they'll be there first,


glossy and rowdy

and indistinguishable.

The deep muscle of the world.


recently read this poem my Mary Oliver, and not too much later this past
Saturday I was at lunch with a bunch of Unitarian Universalists.  The conversation turned to crows, and each
shared what crows mean to them and how much they watch crows. I was amazed
because what I thought was happening in my own life and in academia, appears to
be a cultural phenomenon.  Birds matter
and how they think of us and how we think of them, also matters. The world has
come a long way, and so have I.


I first began showing my spouse how to identify birds he caught me one day
saying, "It's just a crow."  I
realized my speciesist attitude and how far I had wandered from seeing wonder
in the ways life brings beauty to living form. 
Since then I take extra time to look at crows, and at their
behavior.  Perhaps they do pick at limp
things, but my gosh, one day I saw one at my congregation doing it with a stick
being used as a tool!  Last year I read
about a study of crows on a university campus where they found that crows
recognize individual faces and can communicate to other crows if the person is
a threat of which to beware.  There is so
much going on that reflects the deep foundations of this world - in suburban
lawn, in city starling, in rowdy crows, and in our daily risings full of
misgivings and doubts about what this day might mean to us, to those we love,
and to the world.  No matter our
thinking, we are the work of this creation, enclosed in the same muscle sheath
as the persistent crows.


Where do you overlook beauty,
wonder, or unifying complexity in your daily life? 


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