I’ve seen ravens only in Anchorage.
One startled me with its high, lonesome call.
Louder than the gristle-chewing sound
of snow beneath my boots, the raven made me look up
to lit streetlamp in this sunless Alaskan day.
Flakes kissing my face, I watched its big black body puff and quake.
I looked for ravens all over Washington and saw nothing but crows.
Not that I mind the crows. My friend Serena does. She lives on a bluff overlooking
Cincinnati, and there, the crows swarm in clots of black feathers and beak,
riding the updrafts. They are incarnate evil to her, obscuring her view of the city.
But I thrilled to their numbers, that cacophony of caws.
I’m trying to make peace with a nature poet
who doesn’t write about what spoils the view:
tattered grocery bags clinging like vines to tree limbs,
fast food wrappers swirling in the wake of a city bus,
plastic sandwich bags littering the remotest rainforest.
In the Everglades, a crow once lifted
a shiny-sheathed granola bar
out of the pocket of my backpack.
When I walked past alligators,
all they did was yawn.
The poet’s view is privileged.
Ghetto kids have no access
to trout lilies, goldfinches, bamboo stems.
I once lived in Dogtown
across the street from Turtle Park.
The tiny yards behind chain-link fences in Dogtown
have no room for children, let alone dogs.
A woman took pity and gave us Turtle Park.
I would lie back on smooth concrete turtle sculptures,
listening to highway hum.
I want to find god in the details,
but sometimes what we notice
is the reek of stale piss.
Walking last night in Seattle,
I hear a quarrel outside OK Grocery,
where life is anything but.
Morning brings a blue heron,
legs and beak a perfect arrow shot through the sky.
If I’d been staring at the ground,
I would have missed it.