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About this Poem 

“The tree is an allusion to a poem by Rilke; the musing wonders whether it’s possible to have Gaia consciousness. I was watching crows eat the holiday leftovers I’d tossed out onto the snow. They really liked the coconut macaroons.”
—Marilyn Nelson

Crows

What if to taste and see, to notice things,
to stand each is up against emptiness
for a moment or an eternity—
images collected in consciousness
like a tree alone on the horizon—
is the main reason we’re on the planet.
The food’s here of the first crow to arrive,
numbers two and three at a safe distance,
then approaching the hand-created taste
of leftover coconut macaroons.
The instant sparks in the earth’s awareness.

Copyright © 2016 by Marilyn Nelson. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 4, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2016 by Marilyn Nelson. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 4, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

Marilyn Nelson

Marilyn Nelson

Born in 1946, Marilyn Nelson is the author of over eight books of poetry, as well as many collections of verse for children and young adults. She currently serves as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

by this poet

poem
The Lutherans sit stolidly in rows;
only their children feel the holy ghost
that makes them jerk and bobble and almost
destroys the pious atmosphere for those
whose reverence bows their backs as if in work.
The congregation sits, or stands to sing,
or chants the dusty creeds automaton.
Their voices drone like
poem
Five daughters, in the slant light on the porch,
are bickering. The eldest has come home
with new truths she can hardly wait to teach.

She lectures them: the younger daughters search
the sky, elbow each others' ribs, and groan. 
Five daughters, in the slant light on the porch

and blue-sprigged dresses, like a
poem
Pleasant Smith, 1837

Joseph, Alonzo, Neptune, Truss, and me
lit out under a sky paling towards dawn
yesterday, to trek on down into town
and take our places in the national economy.

Because times are tough all over, poverty
and unemployment rife. Who can compete
with immigrants who’ll work for a bite