The Crows

April 4, 2006

It is early and the sun has taken hold of the eastern sky. It’s a sharp air out here, but it’s supposed to be plus 15 later. The birds are up. The crows let loose their annoying yawps and squawks. There is one perched on the sign across the street. It seems to be eyeing me…sizing me up. I walk into the west where the sky is still somewhat frozen in blue night. A few shadowy crows flit above the outlines of the buildings. The crow follows.

The crow has been much maligned, almost to the point of being called a criminal nuisance. To me, the crow is a cunning opportunist. There is honesty in the crow – honesty that eludes every human. Then again, it’s hard to compete against the hardwired instinct of the crow when we’ve got the double-edged blades of reason and passion carving up the insides of our skulls. Crows may die in the gutters of men but they die more honestly than all men put together.

The crow follows me for a block or two, skipping from stop sign to street sign, keeping a good eye on me. I’m in a hurry but I stop for a second and try to stare him down. Shifty bastard won’t keep eye contact. Keeps rolling his head around and mouthing me off with that goddam morning-busting squawk. I get to the corner and finally see what he’s all on about. Someone left a McD’s bag on the sidewalk. French fry and burger remnants are strewn about. Well I’ll be damned. No wonder my black-hearted pal is in a snit. I disturbed him during breakfast.

Vignette #54

2 reader comments (closed)

1

Jocko

Have you read Ted Hughes’ collection, Crow? It’s one of my favorites. After reading it I became more of a fan of crows. And your piece does a good job for them too. Maybe your totem is the crow…

Apr 04, 2006 • 12:54

2

gravel

Jocko: Haven’t read it. Sounds interesting. I’ve become quite fond of the crow (and the Raven, of course).

Apr 04, 2006 • 14:31

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StreetRag is an urban weblog and podcast about the city of Edmonton, which is located in the province of Alberta, Canada. It is authored by Edmonton-based writer, web advocate, and poet Michael Gravel and is updated frequently with written urban vignettes, amateurish photographs, deuteronomous audio material, barely coherent musings and rambling ecumenical treatises. StreetRag is a love letter to a lonely prairie burg struggling with its big city ambitions and small-town feel.

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The city is Edmonton. It's a subject, not a passion. E-Town is almost universally derided by outsiders as an unlivable tundra wasteland populated by oil-hungry redneck conservatives who despise the arts. All of that is true. But it's not the whole story. There is beauty here. Dusty snowfalls. Brilliant summers. A stunning river valley. A diverse arts community that flourishes. It's a place that inspires a gray relationship - not all good, not all shitty. For that reason alone it is lovable, for what is life but a grayscale?

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