Second day of the new year and we know full well

that we’re still in the storm, but the sky is French blue

with high streaming clouds and the kids

are bundled and playing the pirate game

while the midday beaming swells reminiscence

of spring. In these parts, the big birds are hawks

with red tails circling or ospreys drifting in

from shore, but with your shaggy sable plumage,

you are, my friend, decidedly different.

Too big for a crow, you land in the oak

and start your strange singing so that even

the kids cease their treasure search

to stare. Are you an omen, or just a bird?

Who are you who seems so at ease

eying us, coming closer, making sounds

I’ve never heard from a bird. Not your normal

croaks and caws, these are clicks and knocks

and I struggle to place your presence,

easy enough to see you as a cipher

or as the corona dead come back

or the thought I don’t want to think:

a premonition that our turn is coming.

Bird of death flown in from beyond, sitting

on the shoulder of the wicked queen,

or on a pallid bust with eyes of demon dreaming

when in truth, the Audubon folks later inform

what we heard were your care calls, that

toking and wonking is your love language,

nothing raucous here; instead, they are called

comfort sounds and hearsay has tricked me

into seeing you as a sign of something

you’re not. Instead, a mother beckoning

her babies, a lover teasing his mate.

For those moments, an eye in the storm

shushing the months of dread. When I sense

myself slipping, I chant your Latinate lineage

Corvus Corax Corvus Corax Corvus 

Corax, relax, weary heart, spring calls,

spring comes, spring resurrects. Take comfort

Corvus knocks on January’s door, breathe

my friend, relax.