PoetrySpring/Summer 2023

Christien Gholson — What is Crow (Polyphony)

Crows fill the bare maples, between baroque trills and
iron-crust-against-plaster croaks, they dip their heads,
swipe beaks, black to cold branch: What is wood? Wood

was one of the solutions soil came up with when it was
asked to invent the sky. And what is sky? The gravity
source that pulled black wings out of crow bodies that

now whirl and scatter and land on the rehab lawn across
the street. Their claws break the surface, look for inver-
tebrates who repeat over and over in their sleep What 

is root? The bridge between sorrow and crushed stone,
annihilation of form being the first loss, still preserved
in the gray winter light reflected off a crow’s eye, asking

What is night? A loosely linked multi-organ animal,
sometimes mistaken for jellyfish in drowning dreams,
that feeds off the mystery of borders, constantly search-

ing for the place where it might begin and end. Is it with 
elk? Their hunger inside a hemlock shadow? Is it with
wolf lichen? A net that filters the blood of poisoned and

resentful spirits that hide in valley fog? Is it with bat? A
way to map seemingly empty space using insect bodies
and their atonal wings? In the morning there was a thin

layer of snow. Crow companion-calls echoed off nearby
walls: What is crow? A crocus poking through the ice.
What is crow? A bee rising from the purple-yellow petal

cup. What is crow? A woman in a wheelchair, inhaling
cigarette smoke. What is crow? A hummingbird huddled
on a bare branch, cold.

Christien Gholson is the author of several books of poetry, including Absence: Presence (Shanti Arts), The No One Poems (Thirty West), and All the Beautiful Dead (Bitter Oleander); and a novel, A Fish Trapped Inside the Wind (Parthian Books). Several of his chapbooks can be found online, including Tidal Flats (Mudlark) and How the World was Made (2River View). He lives in Oregon, where he is engaged in an endless dialogue about birth and death with a local murder of crows. He can be found at: https://christiengholson.blogspot.com/


The author: Debra Marquart