What Crows Say About Black

What Crows Say About Black

What else is black?

A dragonfly frequenting backyards,
hunting metallically.
Flat wings, smear soot thin.

A rural road’s moonless night
where tree branches take
the passer-by pulse—they rustle

the scrape history lammed
onto bark thinly thinly
as dragonfly wings and first time

hearing white tail bucks stamp
and hiss in the pitch dark I tumble
into the ditch prostrate like a penitent.

The wendigo’s permanent touch—
nothing is ever blacker than fear.
There is more to endure,

oh antlered one, than a blindness
wormed from leaf mulch—like a vole
between a fox’s paws I look

into my mother’s black Catawba eyes.
Then father—white, afraid and dying slowly
in a fluorescent room. Blackness, he says,

pretending that having told the truth
or lied makes no difference forty years
after the event. One last ambiguous breath.
Ask me something else.

What is it about crows?

When memory stretches out of rivet and cell
so a fact will not let go.

The crows gather, cant on a chary tree-limb vigil
by the river. Watch

what opens, the-cannot-be turns color then frames
the jerky night until

dawn bends to mutter and caw. Dying men
wait to speak

the-better-left-dead in the dread moment
the breathing

tube is removed. The voice croak. Call
the crows closer.

The flock grieves its ratchet notch by notch.
Ghost I know

covered tracks and brushed my infancy
with branches, blew wind,

sand-drift. Trail gone so bury me.
Questions—no more for now. Please.


Michael Milligan has worked as a construction laborer, migrant fruit and grape picker, homestead farmer and graphic arts production manager. He is a survivor. He took his MFA in Creative Writing at Bennington College, co-founded of Poetry Oasis Worcester and was privileged to be an editor with Diner. His poetry book reviews, fiction and poems have appeared in AgniDinerThe New Orleans ReviewThe Valparaiso ReviewChaffin JournalBlue Earth ReviewIlluminations and others.

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