An “Unkindness” Of Ravens
by Scott Edward Anderson
To fall asleep at night, I count ravens
from my bedroom window.
They gather in the spruce trees
at the edge of the woods,
as snow gathers dusk on its surface.
By midnight, thirty or forty
have gathered there in the oily dark.
As a group, they are called an “unkindness,”
which seems unkind, for they are polite
and helpful to each other,
share their successes and failures
pursue joy and embrace their strength
in numbers, which is more than we can say.
Plummeting downhill, they launch into air,
as if snowboarding; flipping and spinning
— hell-bent teenagers on a half-pipe.
In more sober moments, they tell each other
where to look for food, when danger is near,
and where the good garbage is. They discuss
variable wind speeds or compare moose meat
found in the woods with that of roadside kills.
They can be graceful on the wing — Naiads
of the air — or clumsy and indelicate,
half-eaten bagels dangling from black beaks.
Dusk comes later and later these evenings,
and morning arrives sooner, winter almost over.
Come Easter, the ravens will be gone.
Ravens prefer dead things remain dead;
they don’t believe in resurrection.
Scott Edward Anderson has been a Concordia Fellow at the Millay Colony for the Arts, and received both the Nebraska Review Award and the Aldrich Emerging Poets Award. His poetry has appeared in American Poetry Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, and Terrain, among other publications.
Poem © 2010 Scott Edward Anderson. All other content copyright © 2010 Abyss & Apex Publishing.
Art Director: Bonnie Brunish