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News & Views of Phillips Since 1976
Saturday May 18th 2024

CAROLING WITH CROWS Phillips Neighborhood, Christmas 2016


Some people came out to greet us, others held
back, facades preserving a solemn
silence, whether of privacy, vacancy
or sorrow. Yet smiles escaped our little
roving chorus, whether for our stumbles
over the carols”' verses in Spanish, or
for having lit a few faces in windows
and doorways of South Minneapolis.

Lifting my gaze from twilight pavement
and shadowed porches. I”'m not sure when
it happened. I suddenly saw them,
crows, hundreds, maybe thousands in the burnt-
orange dusk, surrounding us in all
directions, clustered crows enough to re-leaf
the bare trees, great black choir-lofts of crows,
their dark notes strung on staves of the sky.

Overhead, too, crows everywhere, flapping
through the lurid, smudged air like ash from some
vast burning which perhaps was after all
simply the crows¹ Christmas, their excitable
cawing and clacking a kind of caroling
above our earthbound song, urging us out
from our less visible darkness to recognize
also those angels of the nearer heavens.

Thomas R. Smith is a poet, essayist, editor, and teacher living in River Falls, Wisconsin. He teaches poetry at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis. His new and selected prose poems, Windy Day at Kabekona, will be out from White Pine Press in 2018. He is also working on a prose book about writing the nature poem in a time of pipelines, fracking, and climate change.

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