the summer of crows

the summer after your older brother,
dodging the draft, swallowed a shotgun
barrel in the woods near walden pond

(if a pacifist shoots himself alone
in a forest, do the trees woodenly applaud?)
you spend weeks moping behind his easel,
painting the blackbirds outside your window.

the first night, they arrived as mourners,
clacking and cawing in somber robes,
their feathers ruffled with quiet shame.

roosting in the shadows beneath your eyes,
with their talons, they offered violet hearts
for his courage and his cowardice,
littering his coffin with the debris of memory.

today at dusk, they flit beneath the sky's crescent eye
drifting, aimless as your smoke rings,
across a night speckled with phantom stars.

carrying his body on gunpowder wings,
they float through glades of loss, streams of rage.
weeks later, you are still breathing ashes,
choking on an anger you cannot swallow.

by september, they may depart, a host
of raucous angels, no longer stained
with the shimmer of self-loathing.

strumming acoustic excuses with
secondhand wings, streaked with gasoline,
like him, they make no promises to obey
a single law contrary to their gravity.

a/n: always, they will remain wardens of the silence has settled on your heart. part of june's creative odyssey. june 7, 2010.