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Joanne the Poet - The Poetry of Joanne M. Clarkson

“Crow Hold” in The Comstock Review

My poem about crows’ nests just appeared in the Fall/Winter 2021 (35th) Edition of The Comstock Review. “Crow Hold” was inspired by my friend Hilary who has been a wild bird rehabilitator for 30+ years. Many of the birds she has saved have been crows and she has several resident fellows who keep her and her husband and their cats amused every day. When I mentioned once the crows’ nests were such messy looking things in trees, she explained to me that crows are not born knowing how to grip and that the nests are constructed to teach this necessary skill. I was so impressed, I wrote the poem about it:

Crow Hold

Leaflessness reveals the mess

of a crows’ nest. Random twig

trash as though the dark goddess

forgot how to weave or kept

this secret from the lowly crow.

My friend who has tended injured

Corvids, studied their wings

and spindles, their eye shine,

tells me there are lessons

in the stash. Crows are not born

knowing how to grip. Parents

teach their young the opposable

talon, baton by baton, tightrope

by guidewire, limb and limber.

The fledglings learn their manners

on tines and knives. Become almost

human enough for violin. Not ours

to judge the shack at the edge

of the river, the canted tent

from which notes spill

like crooked silver.

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