Jennifer Shniederman

As the Crow Flies

The black crow surveys what will be hers
While I walk empty streets and boulevards
Playing the waiting game.
The crows, sparrows and wild parrots have gotten louder every day
As nature takes back the city.
Getting bolder,
Swooping low, soaring, cawing
Challenging the human claim to habitat.
I keep an uneasy purchase
On the claim to my land and lungs.
Passing her territory
The crow sounds the alarm
But she is barely worried about me.

In our own precarious nest
Beloved son arrives abruptly from school
Earring in his lobe and vegetarian leanings.
He is presumed healthy for exactly one day.
Then fever, cough, strict isolation
Food delivered on a tray
Contaminated laundry stuffed into plastic bags
His father on the pandemic front lines
Bringing home the virus.
The boy goes from quarantine to evacuation
Reigniting Operation Pied Piper of wartime England
Children sent to the countryside
Mine is in a converted garage
Eking out a half-life
In the San Fernando Valley
Twenty four miles away
As the crow flies.

His upright bass
Too big to take to college
Keeps a silent vigil
Sometimes I jump
Thinking the large instrument is a person
Threatening the dark living room.

Tomorrow will see a partial lift of the quarantine
The cacophony of avian noise is rising
While the black crow cackles in delight
For she knows it is too soon.

Jennifer won an out-of-county Honorable Mention.. She is featured in our first official book publication, In the Quarantined Room: Reflections on the COVID-19 Experience in Indian River County, FL 2020. To find out more about the book and to purchase a copy, click here.

Recommended Posts