Mirror, mirror

Imagining thirteen ways of being looked at by a blackbird.

They’re back.

What?

These blackbirds, see? They are looking at me. I just wanted to see these mountains. Out in the––

Snow?

Right. I’ve been––

Wallace Stevens again?

Well, sure. There were only three at first.

And where did you think you were going to find snow? Have you seen the––

Now this one. Listen. There is some innuendo in his tone.

His?

C’mon, you can tell. Now they’re at my feet.

Now they’re flying out of sight.

They’ll be back. All afternoon, it’s been night coming, and you can feel weather brewing, too.

Not snow, though. Fire, maybe. Or rain.

It’s a murder, right, when they come in a group like that? 

No, that’s crows. Blackbirds are a choir. Except, I hate to tell you this.

What?

Look when they come back. Those are crows. You can tell by the beaks. Tails, too. Besides, have you been listening?

Caw, caw! 

Exactly. Did you know that they hold funerals, crows do?

What?

One dies, they all come silent and look. They stand around. Then fly away again, quiet as they came.

Huh. I thought they were mostly mischief. 

It’s the blackbirds that go from nest to nest. Crows mate for life. They don’t even kick the young out. They can stay in the nest ‘til they’re mating age, and even then, they’ll keep coming back.

The river’s moving again.

There they go.

Tell me you didn’t feel it, though. 

Feel what?

They were looking at us.

That’s why they have a reputation.

For mischief?

For being messengers.

What’s this message, then?

How should I know? I don’t speak crow. Maybe they just wanted to mess with you.

For?

Getting enamored with that voice.

What voice?

That human one you love so much. Like from the Stevens poem. Where it’s always you––

Looking?

Right.

*This morning, I woke up with Wallace Stevens’ “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” in my mind, alongside a sense of mischief. I couldn’t help imagining the birds flipping the script.

Author: Stacey C. Johnson

I am here to wonder out loud. The point is not to get a clear answer, a complete picture, but to remember how incomplete the picture is, to embrace the process once again, of discovery, of questions, to notice the stirrings of wonder. To leave crumbs behind, for the next traveler.

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