THE WAY IT IS
In late fall the crows come back.
Streaming like smoke across
the dusk until gray sky
goes black with their flapping,
they settle by hundreds
in the old oaks and maples
of the campus hollow. The sidewalk
is slick with their droppings.
One year the college borrowed a cannon,
the type farmers use to frighten
blackbirds from their com.
For three nights running, the crows
would rise, a clamorous cloud,
at its periodic booming. By the fourth,
they barely stirred on their roost.
The school returned the cannon;
it disturbed the neighbors. Now
an enterprising teacher carries
an umbrella to her night class.
Another steps out smartly under
the canopy, looking a bit like a giant
crow himself in his black overcoat,
shoulders hunched against probability.
Mornings, the grounds crew hoses down
the pavement. The crows watch, like shades
of old professors rustling and muttering
over the current state of things.
One February dawn, they disappear.
Maureen S. Fry