There is corn in the field,
what should I think of else?
Anyway, my thoughts are all feathery.
I prefer simple beak talk.
Maybe it's having wings.
It does make a difference.
As for that business about brothers,
of course I'm concerned that we
share the corn, to the extent
that I get my plenty.
As for later, how can "later" exist?
When old crows die I don't cry,
I peck at their silly, staring eyes
and open my wings and fly to
wherever I want to. I've forgotten
both father and mother,
even the pile of sticks
in which I was born. Well, maybe
now and again, and mostly in winter,
I have strange, even painful ruminations.
When you're hungry and cold
it's hard to be bold, so I sulk,
and I have dreams sometimes, in which
I remember the corn will come again,
and vaguely then I feel that I am almost feeling
grateful, to something or other.
Just yesterday I read about the emotional and social lives of crows and ravens. They are quite smart. They express complex emotions to others through voice and feather, use tools, and recognize human faces perhaps better than we can. In addition, writes William Hagmen, "They play, communicate, and have the capacity to deceive. They're smarter than any cat and most children. They have strong family values. Johan McGowan, (author of In the Company of Crows and Ravens") equates it with our society, saying crows come closer to man than any other species studied, including primates. Crow society is family-based, he said. There's a single breeding pair that has offspring that don't leave right away and help raise the next batch of offspring, just like people. Relationships are maintained and individuals can join up with each other years later. Like us, crows have territories and they gather in communal places. When you see a number of crows gathering, he said, 'those aren't gangs of crows, they're typically family groups that are helping each other make a living.'"
So, if I am to take Mary literally here in her understanding of crows, she is off the mark. Yet, is she really speaking of crows? Maybe she means me, and you. We think we are somehow different than other beings. We may not have wings, but we've got something especially primate about us that sets us apart. We hoard the harvests from fields and forget about our brothers and sisters. Sometimes, when hard times come our way we let go of control and give in to dreams of interdependence and even touch gratitude.
Winter is coming - our first day below 40 degrees and I'm bundled up writing this. Outside my window a fish crow calls, telling me that there is beauty in the chaotic and bountiful field of our existence, if not in benefit directly coming my way but in loving and compassionate thoughts I share with all beings.
Why today should I think of anything else?