Butterflies and Crows (Revised, with audio)

Butterflies and Crows (Revised)

Early Morning Crow at Red Bank Battlefield

In the time of before
when color emerged from grey,
and butterflies swayed, seeing
blue, green, red, and yellow,
when storms erupted, and branches grew
and everything had a counterpart
in nature’s art of fractals. The stars,
the sun and moon, the black of night and day’s light
kept earth balanced, though
a small-winged tipped could cause a shift,
but mostly that was righted.

Now ice drips, and winds drift
in wayward tempest gales,
the trees are split, their roots cry out
and mycelium networks ache as they transmit
arboreal dying sounds.

You dream of the past, you dream of now
and in your dreams, you understand

that crows carry wisdom’s key—they warn
with caws–

a telling, not a reprimand,
like Casandra, what they must do

even if their truths fly by,
even if nobody listens.

My photo fits, but this is a slightly revised version of a poem I wrote in response to artworks by Gaynor Kane, Anjum Wasim Dar, and John Phandal Law for Paul Brookes’ Ekphrastic Challenge in April. You can see the art there and read the other responses. The poem seems very timely right now. I’m sharing this with dVerse Open Link Night.

59 thoughts on “Butterflies and Crows (Revised, with audio)

  1. This is great – for me the best of the night so far. As Nitin suggests above, it achieves a real resonance and is so strongly and well written, especially towards the end. Brilliant and knowing writing Merrill

  2. This is deeply moving, Merril! I especially like; “You dream of now and in your dreams, you understand that crows carry wisdom’s key.” ❤️❤️

  3. Truth, like the salt of old, clings with broken fingers to the mantle of commodity. Like the copper penny, it still exists, but it does not see the light of day that often.

  4. About halfway through listening to your poem, I said to myself, “Casandra is the speaker of this poem.” You are so right about the poem’s timeliness. It goes right into my “Poems for Troubled Times” folder.

  5. A local (& intense) storm passed. I shut off the ceiling fan & opened the doors to the back deck. just as I tuned in here & finished reading this again, 3-4 large crows settled into the lollipop maple just off the deck and started their screaming. Blew me away.

  6. “You dream of the past, you dream of now
    and in your dreams, you understand

    that crows carry wisdom’s key—they warn
    with caws–

    a telling, not a reprimand,”

    Interesting take on the crow’s caw.


  7. Premonitory. And it’s all our own work. The whole world will split and scream before we do anything to stop the suffering. Meanwhile, in the Billionnaires’ Bunker, the rats will be preparing to leave us to it.

  8. This is so beautiful, Merril. The first two lines and “a telling, not a reprimand” are my favorite lines. I loved hearing you read it at OLN. Thank you so much for your patience at OLN last night. Once it got rolling, it was fun. For me, third time will have to be the charm! 🙂

  9. You know I have a special feeling for crows myself, as perhaps all poets do, as they reflect for us so much of our own natures–and function often as they do here as life’s foretellers and warners. This poem charms even as it brings its chill that life must suffer and fade, that beauty falls under the blade of greed all too often, and that human fools tamper with the great machine of Nature at a cost our entire species and every other will eventually have to pay..or so I read. A fine poem, indeed.

  10. Nature is busy adapting with its whole body — I think of it struggling back for ages after 95 percent of life was killed off 250 million years ago — sacrificing so many lives finding a way forward. That’s what I hear in your crows.

  11. I’m listening! Or at least trying and thinking I do.
    I listened to you read.
    Hearing you once in awhile, allows for a greater read of other poems.
    Thank yo, Merril!

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