“origin story, with crow”

This poem won First place in 2-Day Poem Contest 2023

—on the occasion of Earth Day 2023

The crow’s wing is a blade
slicing the ocean open:

inside, the usual offal—birds’ nests
of old transatlantic cable, fists of seagrass

that clasp and conceal the bleached bones
of tankers and trawl nets, dusky shards of fallen stars

set down on the seabed in a sunken syzygy
of celestial trash—a drowned, stationary orbit.

Even deeper in abyssalpelagic space, a forest
of grey spruce slow-dances

in the dark undercurrent, like phosphenes
forged by the pressure of water and salt.

The crow plucks one, squirrels it in her plumage
and soars—for a moment spruce and crow and sea and sky

concatenate, which is to say create,
a new cosmos in the ink of her wing,

connecting the drowned
to what cannot be drowned.

She returns the spruce to drier ground, from its boughs
watches fishermen gadding about the bright, boatless harbour,

gathering bait and gossip, mending generations
of decay in their nets,

listens to them quiz one another about traps and tides,
the topography of a good trawl line, the boundaries

of inherited territories and the brisk profits
to which they’ll one day return—

as if returning
is something that will always happen,

as if there were a net wide enough
to reel back in the world.