afternoon birds

Afternoon  birds


Long shadows creep across broken cement

And old rocking chairs.

And I see them as I wait for the sunset.

Little dark forms

Fluttering high in an ocean blue sky

Fast moving toward some special place.

Every night I see them

Crows – sometimes two or three,

Sometimes thirty cutting a swath against the waning light.

And as soon as one group careens past

Another flock approaches.

Coming from some other part of town

Heading for their special Crow party

Down by the beach.

Where they talk about eggs and who’s nesting with who.

And the annoying seagulls who live at the mall.


I’ve tried to follow them.

Where do they go?

How do they know when it’s time to leave their day job

cawing in the neighborhood tree?

There are always stragglers…

One or two who seem to have missed the last call

Flapping hard to keep up.

No one seems to notice they are so far behind.

Are some crow parties better than others?

One time I found them on an elementary school roof.

Another time they had parked en masse in a neighbor’s yard.


The Canadian geese are apparently not invited

since they prefer a soccer field for their nighttime gatherings.

(I’ve heard they really aren’t Canadian either,

they are from a trailer park in the canyon.)


The sameness of the birds as they seek their beds for the evening.

is comforting.

Their sureness of what to do.

Of where to go.

Their community that cares for itself.

Their families that stay together

Year after year.

They know they are stronger

When they dream together.

And in the morning they leave

Soaring away in every direction

To their crow jobs

Of taunting cats

And sitting on electrical wires

And neighborhood chimneys.


But they are never so far away

That when the shadows are long

They know to come back to their appointed place,

Before the sun sets and the cold creeps in

They know how to find their way home.