ravens are the birds I'll miss most when I die;
their darkness into which we must look, composed
of black light & lithe intelligence.
infernally cautious, they have made their nest
somewhere in the fringe of woods
beyond the field.
they fly from one tree to another, hawk-like,
hanging themselves on the air, the same way I hang
in sleep, between one day & the next; arms
lengthening across sheets, pores yearning to release
vanes of barbs. few have witnessed the arrival
of each black sheath; it is this me in half-raven shape,
that is my greatest nakedness.
& maybe we do not die at all,
but become ravens instead; dead consuming the dead
as a means to ferry them skyward, already
in the belly of heaven; this could be our after-life
existence. though it may sound gruesome,
wouldn't it make sense?
Nonna crosses herself, calls this sacrilegious,
but if I have a religious practice, if God speaks to me,
it is in the contemplation of these birds,
always watching me as I watch them;
so hard that I have felt their black feathers
split out from my skin.