“. . .an avian funeral cortège.”

The smartest man I know is dying –
cancer, spreading to his bones
and cruelly, to his brain.

“Come look back here,” he says when I visit.
“They knew even before I did.”
Six ravens walk – stately, slow, with purpose –
across his yard, an avian funeral cortège.
“They’ve been here since spring,” he adds.

He points to a corner near the fence.
“That one has a broken wing.
Got it robbing a blue jay’s nest.
Shouldn’t mess with jays, I told her.”

He feeds her raw chicken and steak but says he knows
that soon she’ll ask for death, and he’ll oblige.
“They won’t do the same for me,” he says.
“Fucking do-gooders.”
I don’t know what to say.

“When she’s gone, her fellows will have
a feast of her carcass,” he says without malice,
“just as they will with mine.”
I try to protest, but I know it’s true.
Already there’s talk that his research is passé.

At lunch, I see my own reflection in a soup spoon.

– Sarah Russell
First published in Misfit Magazine
Watercolor by Sarah Yeoman, SarahYeoman.com

P.S.  New prompts are up on the Prompts page.

28 thoughts on “Ravens

  1. wow, this is intense and even more intense to find out it is true. i had a raven lying dead on my front sidewalk leading to my front door that my sister and i came upon after returning from my mother’s death bed.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow. This is powerful, ominous, brutally honest. As a wise old man told me, ain’t none of us getting out of here alive.


  3. That is a good poem! But am I funny in not finding it chilling? The professor got it right, it seems to me. There’s nothing chilling in death. It just is. The end phrase is premonitory, it’s the final destination for all of us.


  4. Thanks, Jane. I have to say when this happened, I found the ravens taking up residence in his backyard a little eerie, but he was so matter-of-fact about it that it seemed commonplace after I had visited with him awhile.


    1. Jerry, I’m at that age too. I see it not as something bad, but as learning to accept what’s coming closer. And I try to see it as the man in “Ravens” does — matter-of-fact, without negativity. It’s the negativity that makes people mean and/or depressed in old age.

      Liked by 1 person

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