This Winter

The crows seem larger than life.
That one there – big as a cow,
sheen of jet feathers, marble-eyed surveyor,
gauges me as I approach.

Maybe it is a shift in proportion
brought on by winter.
My shadow wanes, dulled grey
and somewhat featureless on the frost.
The crow is an inky country by contrast.

This indifferent crow holds his ground.
I consider running madly at him
flapping to startle him into flight.
Then I consider the ditch between us
and continue my slow pace.

Passing, I see something dangles
from his beak – entrails? a dark ribbon?
the shoelace of the last person
who tried to jar him into the sky?

“You win,” I mutter under my breath.
A little uneasy at his presence behind me,
outside of my vision, I speed up slightly,
as though moving towards a deadline
that must be met.

~ “This Winter” was first published in the anthology
“A Bird as Black as the Sun: California Poets on Crows and Ravens.”


Snow curls over, a miniature cornice beside the road,
breaks as I walk by, a wave collapsing into itself,
with a small sound like icy bells shattering.

Whether it signals the end of something or the beginning
or whether that is the same thing isn’t clear.
The white of my breath clouds the air in front of me.

A sudden blur suggests a doe bolting into the cover of trees.
I press the heels of my palms together until I can feel
hard cloven ridges begin to pound against the cold.

June Sylvester Saraceno is author of “Altars of Ordinary Light,” as well as a chapbook of prose poems titled “Mean Girl Trips.” She is a professor and English program chair at Sierra Nevada College and founding editor of the Sierra Nevada Review.